Allison Etwaroo - My Daughter
My Daughter, My Love, My Joy...
Parent Guilt...Am I doing enough? Am I doing it right? Do my kids feel loved? Appreciated? Do I spend enough time with my kids? Was I too impatient today? As parents, we’ve all felt that nagging emotional response.
Receiving my diagnosis was a relief in this sense. After two long years of uncertainty, I finally had an explanation for my shorter temper, less enthusiasm to play Barbies, and less energy to go for bike rides.
My daughter was nearly four years old when I received my diagnosis. I felt clueless on how to share the news of my diagnosis and treatment plan with her, but finally it felt right one moment at the breakfast counter. My not so eloquent speech went, “You know how mommy is often too tired to participate? How mommy has been grumpy lately? You’ve noticed how mommy is always itching like crazy? And you felt mommy’s lump the other day? Mommy has a sickness that isn’t her fault, you can’t get it and it’s just bad luck that it’s happened to mom. The good news is the doctors have a good plan and it will be hard, but it won’t be long before mom feels better again.” Truthfully, I have no idea if she really understood. She knew something was up, she knew things were changing. I knew though that I had touched on the important details for her level of maturity: she was safe and there was a solution.
After just one chemo, the itching ceased. Then by two chemo infusions, the lumps were gone. These were visible and irrefutable evidence to my daughter that I was healing. We began to call chemo, “the funny medicine,” as it seemed to work backwards, making you sicker before you’re healthier. We began a countdown, we built rituals into our chemo schedule and we had a cancer rhythm as a family. I always kept starburst in my “chemo bag” to give her when she dropped me off and picked me up. A little something to look forward to, distraction at its finest. That small moment also brought me joy, knowing there would be something sweet, her smile, at the end of each treatment. Other coping methods included Mondays before chemo were spent prepping her favourite foods and chemo days were spent with dad on bike rides.
Through my cancer journey, I have been continuously amazed by my daughter’s ability to breathe through stress, find joy in the small things, accept ideas that are bigger than any of us, and to be my number one supporter. She will probably never understand how much I looked forward to the cards she would make for me while I was at my chemo treatments nor how I treasured our (significantly) extra TV time where she would tell me to put my head on her shoulder and rest.
Not only was being a parent a reason to fight but it is also my greatest source of joy, every single day.