Life comes with so many joys AND challenges, doesn’t it?
Imagine what it would be like to be that mom coping with a child facing cancer. You may know that mom. You may even be that mom, right now.
This breathtakingly, beautifully written article shares the realities for moms dealing with cancer and what their families face every day.
The author, Laura Lane, purposefully created a calendar resource that is sweeping across Canada♥
“It’s 5:45 am and Claire wakes up to the sound of the nurse quietly coming into the room to take Sarah’s vitals before the end of her shift.
Claire looks up on the white board to remember her name. The board says Tuesday July 31st – Our nurse today AM: Linh PM: Stacey. Stacey must have updated the board in the middle of the night.
“Good morning, Stacey!” Claire slowly sits up on the tiny couch bed in her nine-year-old daughter’s hospital room.
Claire looks out the window and begins to think about the day ahead. She reaches for her phone to message her husband, Tom. He’ll be getting up shortly too.
“Good morning, Sweetheart. How was your night? Did Jonny sleep through the night last night?”
“Good morning, Darling. Yes, it was an ok night. Jonny only woke up once and went back to sleep right away. He woke just before I went to bed, so it wasn’t an issue. I let him sleep with Susy. She slept through everything. How was Sarah last night?”
“Sarah threw up a lot last night. I think I lost count after 10 or 12 times. By 2 am she was done and climbed into bed exhausted. I stayed beside her until I was sure she was fast asleep. I climbed into my bed about 2:45. I may have dozed off on her bed for a bit.”
“Does she have any procedures today?”
“Just the usual: blood work and today is day 4 on treatment so she’ll have another dose of chemo. I hope it’s not as bad as yesterday. I think tomorrow we move to the isolation room. How about your day? Do you have enough bread still for sandwiches for the kid’s lunches? I think my mom is doing a grocery run for you later this afternoon.”
“Yes, we’re still good for bread. I think the peanut butter is getting low though. If your mom is doing groceries, do you know whose turn it is to pick up Jonny from day care today? Today is Tuesday, right?”
“Yes, Tuesday. My sister Laura is picking up Jonny and today is soccer practice for Susy. I think she’s picking up Susy and taking them all to the park until you get home from work. Ok, Sarah’s waking up now. I have to call down for her breakfast and get dressed. I think Nurse Stacey is done taking Sarah’s vitals. Love you sweetheart. I’ll text you later. Have a good day. Kiss both the kids for me.”
“Love you too. Give Sarah a big hug for me. We’ll call her at dinner time so she can talk to both Jonny and Susy as well.”
Claire turns to Sarah, “Good morning sweety! You Ok?”
“Mommy, can you come cuddle?”
“Yes of course sweety.”
Claire climbs up into the hospital bed and holds Sarah until she falls back to sleep again. She can order breakfast later.
Claire slips out of the bed to get dressed. She prefers to be dressed before the Doctor and his team come through for rounds. Sometimes they are there at 8am.
She has a list of questions for him this morning. She’s been keeping track of Sarah’s symptoms during this round of chemo. She tries to write down everything. How well Sarah slept, how much she has been eating – which isn’t much right now.
Better than last month when all she wanted to eat was watermelon. She has a chart for blood counts as well. It’s always helpful when she can see that Sarah’s blood counts are going back up again and she can compare to the previous month.
Claire quietly gets ready for the day. Pulling on clothes and making the bed back into a couch. Sarah is sleeping so she pops down the hallway to the Parent’s room.
There is a brown bag in the fridge with her name on it. Some berries, yogurt and granola her friend Marci picked up for her. She can help herself to the juice or milk, that the hospital cancer mom support group supplies for parents.
There are apples and other snacks on the table in the middle of the room as well. Claire grabs a bowl, spoon and her brown bag and juice and heads back to the room.
Sarah is still sleeping. She’ll probably wake up when the doctor comes in. Claire can call down to the Meal Train to order breakfast then. The hospital allows the kids to call down any time of the day and order from a menu whatever they would like. It comes up to the room usually within 20 minutes. It’s so efficient and saves on waste. The kids only get on their tray what they order.
The Doctor and his team arrive at 8:15. Sarah’s room is at the end of the hall and Dr Wilson always starts his rounds there.
Dr. Wilson is the Pediatric Oncology Department Head, he has with him the charge nurse, radiologist, social worker, 3 interns and two other staff that Claire can’t remember who they are. She has a list of Sarah’s Ped-Onc team members, but it is so hard to keep track of everyone.
Dr. Wilson reviews Sarah’s chart and reaches over to Sarah to ask how she is feeling today. Sarah is barely awake. She pouts when sees so many people in her room.
Claire sits on her bed and reaches for her hand. Claire tells Dr. Wilson about yesterday evening. “Sarah threw up a lot. She hasn’t eaten anything since yesterday afternoon and all that came back up. She’s probably starving.”
Claire turns back to Sarah, “Are you hungry sweety?”
“Can I have ice cream and cereal?
“Yes of course sweety. I’ll call down for you when the doctor leaves.”
The doctor asks about fever, diarrhea, rashes and any other symptoms. The nurse reports that there were some issues with Sarah’s port.
The doctor asks, “Can I take a look at your port Sarah?” She nods yes. Claire reaches over to lift Sarah’s shirt for Dr Wilson.
He examines the surgically implanted port that allows them to provide medication, fluids and IV nutrition to Sarah without having to insert an IV repeatedly. Dr Wilson asks the team to keep an eye on it over the next few days.
Dr Wilson warns them that it is a possibility that they might have to replace the port in the coming days if they have any more trouble with it.
After the team leaves, Claire orders Sarah’s breakfast and turns on the TV so she can watch her favorite shows. She picks up her phone to text her mom about adding the peanut butter to the grocery list for home. She tries to remember who was supposed to bring a meal to Tom and the kids today.
Lihn, their day nurse comes by to do vitals again. She lets Claire know that the blood work team will be by shortly at 9am and the Child Life team will come by about 10 am to play with Sarah.
The next round of Chemo is scheduled for 2pm so if Claire needs a break today, this will be her opportunity to run downstairs to put in a load of laundry, grab something from the cafeteria for lunch and maybe get a quick walk or pop into the drugstore or gift shop for supplies.
The maintenance staff comes by to clean the bathroom and clean the floors. Claire climbs on the bed to watch TV with Sarah. Maybe later she’ll pull out her laptop and do some work. Her office asked if she could enter a few numbers for them when she has a free moment.
When 2pm rolls around, nurse Linh comes back wearing full bio hazmat safety gear. It looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. She is covered head to toe just so she can administer the Chemotherapy to Sarah.
It’s too horrifying to think about how dangerous the cocktail of drugs are that they are pumping into her little body to fight the cancer.
After Chemo is done, Sarah rests her head on Claire’s shoulder. The rest of the day will be spent waiting to see how her body reacts. Nurse Linh will come in every hour to take Sarah’s vitals and Claire will watch carefully to see if there are any reactions in between those vital checks.
Thankfully the nurses are great about responding quickly to the call button next to Sarah’s bed.
If they are lucky, it will be an easier day. Yesterday Sarah threw up every 20 minutes from 9pm to 2am. The day before it was diarrhea and fever. Claire just never knows what to expect.
Claire knows all too well that writing everything down is critical to managing all the details. It’s the only way she can feel in control during this madness.
Last month one of the hospital social workers dropped by to see how Claire was doing. She handed her a special daily planner created by another cancer mom to help keep track of everything on a daily, weekly monthly basis.
A box of these Stronger Daily Planners had been donated to the hospital care of local businesses that had funded the project.
Claire knows that the one of hardest things to deal with beyond the grief and sadness for her daughter, is trying to keep track of everything that has to be done.
This new planner was a lifeline for her. From the moment Sarah was diagnosed, her list of things to keep track of just seems to grow every day.
Diagnosis, treatment plans, medication, the growing list of Pediatric Oncology teams members, list of family and friend’s phone numbers and who is helping do what and when, Sarah’s symptoms, how she slept last night, what she ate, who is her nurse today, what appointments are scheduled, what her blood counts are.
The list just seems to go on forever then there is everything happening back at home as well: meals, shopping, homework, chores, after-school activities, etc. She is so thankful that the Stronger Daily Planner for Cancer moms is just one more little blessing to help keep her going during this horrendous time.”
This exquisite article was written by Laura Lane, Author, Speaker, and Cancer Mom. She created the calendar for all the parents facing cancer within their families.
The Stronger Daily Planner is available:
-to order at strongerplanner.com
-through your local Children’s Hospital Child Life Department
-by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
If inspired, please share. If just one mom with a child with cancer gets this support, you will have deeply blessed a family.