Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Downside of Too Much Information in Cancer World

As everyone can agree.  I am on the computer and writing way too much.  I embraced this blog as a way to put the information about ME out there in 2004.  It all started before diagnosis.  I became very aware that she could listen to me talking on the phone.  I could not stand to tell the story time and time again.   

Remember when we talked on the phone?  

Well in the past ten years many bloggers have joined me.  Lots of parents and patients added their stories to the web.  Then came Caring Bridge.  A blog site dedicated to patients and their families.  Then Facebook exploded and support groups showed up.  

In my case the group is Momcology.  Secret handshake, passwords, have to prove you are one of us, initiation and vocabulary test before you can join.  You know the sort of site.  (Never pass up a chance to support this effort.)

With every good thing, there is a downside.  This explosion of sites and access and ways to interact has intensified the knowledge of how bad Childhood Cancer really is a lot of the time.  We know on some level it the worst of all worlds but HIIPA has made it harder to find out what happened to someone you spent weeks with in the hospital.  If you were in such a state you failed to get a good contact number, people just disappear.  It leaves you in a place where you let yourself believe they survived. 

It is no longer possible to be that naive.  More and more the relapses, life ending infections and complications, the impending deaths of precious lives is part of every day. Parents  put their desperate pleas to the universe in a post along with a small picture of their most valued and irreplaceable child. 

Another pin prick, more blood drips, more sadness pools at  our feet.  I am not suggesting they should not share.  I know the need to say the words and let the power of those fears dissipate if only for a bit.  A chance to reach out and find others in the same dense fog. This is a dark, dank lonely and sad place.  Cancer World is a place of despair and frustration and fear. We are here and we are here together,  our group, our tribe, our fellow travelers. We understand what they are feeling.  We know the steps they take. We know that bottomless fear and despair of lack of solutions.  We know we are dumping poison and radiating our children to as close death as possible in hope of bringing them back.  Hoping they can get back to "NORMAL".  

Some parents are sad, some are angry, some curse God, some plan the destruction of the National Institute of Health. Some raise money by shaving off their hair, some walk, some run, some have auctions and events.  You absolutly have to do something. This kind of fear and despair has to vent out of the pressure cooker that is Childhood Cancer.  I took on Chef Walter at Seattle Children's Hospital for failing to have anything to feed my daughter during her long stay.  (Check out 

This week I have learned of three relapses and four deaths.  I have read the agony and cries of mothers who are living with the loss of their children as time keeps marching forgetting them. I have learned of families being sent home because there is nothing left to do.  I have discovered, with more frequency, the term "Comfort Chemo". 

So... Where does all this leave me.  I can't fix it. I couldn't even shame Seattle Children's into serving something more than unwashed iceberg lettuce, frozen toasted cheese sandwiches and hot dogs.  

(Photo Stolen from Liz Selleck)
But I guess I can take a lesson from our children.

Don't stop. 
Don't give up. 

 Even when they say there is nothing left to do but Comfort Chemo.  

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