Saturday, November 12, 2016

Sarcastic Christmas

Getting suited up
 Two blog posts sit in my "archieve" folder...too raw to share. I have been on a roller coaster of emotions with Emma, highs of watching her fearlessly climb a rock wall and lows of making more doctor appointments near Christmas. If you have ever had it really really hard you will understand how this time of year burns. Carols seem sarcastic, "...have yourself a Merry little Christmas..." and all you hear is sarcasm. "I'll be home for Christmas..." and all you can think is "please God let us be home for Christmas." No one promises that life will be easy but few expect it to be this hard.

Since this summer I have been in crisis mode. Ever since I saw an empty space where my baby bus should be parked I have been battling severe depression. You know it is bad when antidepressants do not touch the darkness inside. My doctor and
No fear!
I tried to play around with different medications and dosages to give me some relief but instead I ended up with debilitating migraines and chest viral infection after viral infection. Too sick to run. I keep putting on a brave face, there was one day we went on a hike with our friends and I threw up in the creepy trail potty then kept going not cluing the kids on the fact that my anxiety was crippling.

I am part of a large international support group for mothers with cancer kids. I asked this week for others to tell me if they feel this way, the empty shell of a once great human being. Yes, yes they understood. Many of them suffer in silence just like I have for months. Only two close friends and my husband know how bad I have truly been lately. Our hospital social worker checks in on us every
few weeks and she asked me how I am doing emotionally since the new tumor. I told her that somehow it caught me off guard. When I really stop to think about it I think in order for me to move on with our lives a year ago I told myself we won and to go live life. Looking back I still think that was the right thing to do...but now I seem to be in some state of shock about the new tumor.

As hard as things are there are positive things to come along side. Although it is heartbreaking that Emma is fighting again that made her eligible to be granted a Christmas wish from a charity at our hospital. If all goes according to plan she will have a beautiful dollhouse come Christmas morning. I am so thankful for charities like these. There is the cliché of "money can't buy happiness" but when you are fighting cancer, money or little gifts of joy certainly help! We cannot buy our way out of brain tumors but we can play with a pretty dollhouse to distract us and we can play "cancer babies" to process our emotions. To the people who say that money cannot buy happiness I want you to look at the face of a cancer fighting baby who just got the one toy they wanted. Pure happiness in the middle of a horrible fight.

So I am going to ask all of you to do something for me. Give directly to a Children's Hospital this holiday. Give gifts of toys and gift cards and money for the hospital to give to the charities that put on parties for us when we are inpatient. Here are some tips for you from Emma and myself,
- New and unopened only. These poor loves are immune compromised and hospitals have a strict rule that the toys need to be new and unopened. Some hospitals will not allow stuffed animals.
- If your kids want it our kids want it. If you are at a loss of what to buy for the kids just ask your kids
2 years ago, MRI where Emma was gifted a toy
or grandkids or nieces and nephews what toys are cool right now. Toys that are always a HUGE hit are lego sets, doll sets, movies, art supplies (no paint), small toys like Shopkins or My Little Ponys, and of course hot toys like Hatchimals and the new NES.
- These donations are tax deductible, just contact your local hospital for their specific rules and receipts.
- Gift cards that are very helpful for cancer families are Starbucks (most Children's Hospitals have a Starbucks in them somewhere), gas cards for traveling, local chain restaurants for times the family is stuck at the hospital and sick of hospital food they can get take out, and this time of year any large chain store like Target or Walmart with a note to buy the child a present they have been wanting. If you do the last one make sure you can order online since some parents are literally stuck at the hospital.
**If you are local to Los Angeles or the Bay Area or the Central Valley you can arrange to meet up with us and we will hand deliver the gifts to Lucille Packard on one of our many visits. Depending on the gift it will go to Oncology or the outpatient clinic (those are MRI kids or check up kids who are not immune compromised so they can have stuffed animals). When we do this we will take pictures!

Last favor to ask, involve your own children. Teach them to love others, be grateful for good health, and give with open hearts. Lastly, share pictures with us to keep our hearts full and happy as we continue to fight.
Emma, inpatient. She was given toys to cheer her up!