First, as they say, you cry. Too true. And want to scream. And feel like it might really be possible to die from emotional pain.
And then you the pain becomes normal and bearable. You can't get rid of it, but you can put it in one corner of your heart. And your heart still keeps beating. So you can go on.
And so you do go on. You get information, set about making a plan. And just having a plan feels so good, you can even forget that the pain is still hanging out there in that little corner of your heart. Because having a plan means that maybe this will only be for a period of time. It won't be for the rest of your life. And she can survive. So you can survive. It'll just be the new normal.
And then you start connecting the dots. You find another Wilms' family, who did the same plan. You read her journey. You read about 13 hours of waiting, just for a room on the cancer floor to get chemo. You read about a much anticipated trip home for Thanksgiving ... half an hour on their way, they got the call that his counts were too low. They had to turn around. You read about pain and vomiting and hair loss and weight loss and horrible mystery infections. And you say:
Holy Shit! My child has Cancer! AGAIN!
Again, yes again. You have done this before. You are older and wiser. So is your child; this time, she'll know what's going on. So you find videos and talk to the Child Life specialist, who gives you the book Oncology Stupology for your child. You read it. It's a great book, honestly reflecting the feelings of the cancer kid. And you cry. Because there it is ...
My child has CANCER. AGAIN.
You remember the string of candlelighter beads you began stringing for her last time "for a souvenir" of this journey that she wouldn't remember. Well. Now you will buy more beads, ones that you can hand to her as she accomplishes each little step. You go through the beads, doing the math. How many hospital admissions? How many finger pricks? One for hair loss, one for relapse. One for "birthday on chemo." 20 for chemo course. Others, you make guesses. How many blood transfusions? How many additional admissions for infections or dehydration?
You try to be conservative, and then it's time to pay. $45.37. Not counting shipping. For beads. Beads that, for the most part, are less than .25. It's just that you're going to need a whole lot of them.
A whole lot of them because .... MY CHILD HAS CANCER. AGAIN.