It's been nearly a year since my daughter was diagnosed with ALL. We found out on 11th January that they had spotted something in her blood that was suggestive of leukaemia, after three months of nasty, unexplained illness.
Why has it taken me a year to start writing about it?
Perhaps it is because I am a private person. I have swallowed my emotion, both metaphorically and literally by comfort eating my way up by 2.5st. I haven't voiced very much to anyone about my situation. I've continued with the pretense that all will soon be normal again, and this is a blip.
I've bought into the suggestion that by the time she reaches the maintenance stage of her 2.5 years of chemo, life can go back to normal. She can resume school, I can resume my job, heck, even my career. Life as we knew it will be back and we can all sigh in relief and make sure that we attend her monthly medication meetings and get her blood checked regularly.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. We have continued to be in and out of hospital; we have continued to be living this life of cancer.
Cancer steals life. Not just the life of the patient, but the life of all of those surrounding them, caring for them and trying to live with them. My two year old has nightmares; he's frightened that each time I walk out of the room I'm going to hospital and he won't see me for days. He is clingy with his need, and I rarely have the energy for him. My life is housework and prozac. My husband walks on eggshells around me, and watches me crumble a little with each day that passes but cannot do anything to make it better. The grandparents are fretful and worried. As are the relatives.
Life is held here; it's as though I've taken a deep breath that is yet to be released, nearly a year on.
There's all the things you dare not say. Death. She could die. Instead of speaking the words, you vent them or you consume them. Many parents are heavy smokers - ironic, but completely understandable; I've had to fight the urge to return to cigarettes myself. Some drink. I am scared to even have a glass of wine as once begun, I'm not sure that I could ever stop. I eat. So do others. The hospital ward has a stack of takeaway menus so parents can order in.
So, this blog is my catharsis. It is my attempt to reflect on what has happened to us, during this long, slow, painful burn of my daughter's leukaemia. I'm going to stop pretending it's all fine. It really, really, really isn't.