We haven’t slept well since we heard on Friday that the cancer has spread into JJ’s back. The doctor explained that the cancer is in lymph nodes near his lungs and too close to his spine to remove until after the chemo shrinks it. It’s too risky to take out now because they don’t want to risk cutting any nerve. That scares me.
We have been through some very difficult things in our lives, things that caused us pain, anguish, sorrow, heartbreak, turmoil. But never, never have I felt such pain as I am feeling as we enter JJ’s battle with cancer. Sometimes I feel as if my heart is ripping, ripping in two and as if the merest tap will shatter me. I feel shakey inside and nauseous at the horror of it all. I think it’s because it’s happening to our child. Our children–no matter how old they are–should not have to suffer like this. Having our son be seriously ill feels like we have entered a special kind of hell. And we really haven’t even begun the hard parts yet. I don’t know how we will survive when JJ starts feeling the effects of chemo.
I feel pushed to the limits of exhaustion. Not only is there the BIG SCARY CANCER to deal with, but even the routine tasks seem hard, and extra little problems build up into impossible burdens. Like having a rotten tree fall over into our neighbor’s yard, crushing our fence and their lattice trellis. Our neighbor nicely cut up the tree and gave us the wood, but we need to take down the rest of the tree. We don’t have the energy for routine tasks, how will we cut down the tree? Then on Sunday afternoon, a big storm hit with very, very high winds. Big tree limbs feel into the street, one huge limb falling on our neighbor’s car and crushing it. Our power went out. We heard that we wouldn’t get it back until Saturday–six days away–but fortunately power was restored on Monday afternoon. Our wood stove kept us warm and fed, but even so things are harder without power. I was drying clothes when the power went out, and I didn’t want them to mildew so I spent all Monday putting the wet laundry on chairs to dry next to the wood stove. JJ’s computer died on Sunday so we are down to all three of us sharing EJ’s computer. JJ is worried about not having a computer, but I told him that we know how essential it is for him during this time, so one way or another he will have a computer–whether we can get it fixed or have to buy him a new one.
We laugh when we can but there are some days when we can’t even smile. Today I felt like crying so I called my friend this morning. She is such a gift from God. I do not know how I would get through this without her laughing with me and crying with me and helping me think things through. Today, she helped life become manageable again for me.
One important thing I am learning is that I have to set strong boundaries to protect our son’s health. We have to put JJ first above everything and everyone because we are fighting for his life. We have to protect JJ from germs and anything that would tax his strength. We have to accept the reality of what we can do and what we can’t do. We have to tell people what we need and don’t need. I am glad my friend reminds me of these things and tells me I am not being selfish for turning down invitations or not engaging in some forms of ministry. Right now, we have to focus all our energy on JJ.