During my own battle with cancer, I reflect, and I realize how immensely hard my experience was in all aspects. Day after day of being pricked with needles, poked with barbaric instruments, scanned with state of the art machinery that hummed, clanged and zapped through my very core. Months of being infiltrated with different types of poisons – chemicals so strong that my hair stopped growing, my blood cell count dropped, my immune system ceased to exist and my digestive system revolted. Vomiting is the new normal. Pooping is not. There are many things that you do not know about chemotherapy, but what is known should make it horrible enough.
With every surgery, you worry about whether you will awaken after the anesthesia wears off. You wonder how bad the scars will be. You pray that your body will be strong enough to fight off any infection, and you beg for a speedy and painless recovery.
Most of all, you hope that your medical team and your body can find a happy medium. A place where medical advances can outsmart, outlast and outplay the cancer in your body so you may live a long and healthy life thereafter.
When I reflect on my strength during my boxing match with breast cancer, I shake my head and thank the powers that be for my life and for the life of my youngest. I am filled with gratitude.
This description of strength, of course, is cancer life through the eyes of an adult. Can you even imagine a child going through any and all of this?
As a mother, I cannot stand to bear my children in pain. Even when my oldest stubs her toe for the umpteenth time, I cringe and I wish I could will the pain away instantly. My children have had many freak injuries that have tested my motherly instincts: My oldest, she cut her finger off in a slammed door; she broke her wrist sledding; she tore a muscle in her neck brushing her hair. My middle, his cousin threw a sippy cup at his forehead and split it open; and he bit all the way through his tongue falling off monkey bars. My youngest, well, she was in utero during all of my cancer crap but thankfully, the “worst” she has endured (knock on wood) is surgery to remove her chemo-rotted teeth (ten baby root canals).
However, my perspective gets a reality check – a true jolt down my spinal cord – when I stop and realize there are kids with cancer. Cancer sucks as an adult. Cancer is not even describable or fathomable for a child.
As a mother, my gut wrenches and my tears emerge on contact as I try to imagine how strong Momma Maria is as she helps her son Tommy through his cancer journey. Month after month (and now, week after week), Maria has to watch her son endure all I described above: needle pricking, instrument poking, MRI scanning and so much more. For months now, Maria has faced the challenges of getting a very young child to take his medicine daily – for he was too young to understand the very importance of his life revolving around ingestion of these pills. Now, with a newly placed surgical port – this sweet and young Momma will have to watch her young boy be poisoned weekly for over a year; all in the hopes that his medical team and his body will outsmart, outlast and outplay the cancer buggers residing in him.
Of course, being a Momma, Maria has no choice but to step up and be the strength for her boy, for her family and for herself. Not unlike most mommas, Maria will do whatever she has to in order to preserve the health of her third child. My heart breaks for Tommy and his family. I know they will persevere. I know it will not be without the roller coaster ride that comes along with the cancer bitch.
However, I also know that we all happen to be a part of this sizable city that pretends to be a little town. We are all a part of a community named Leominster. Leominster has proven itself time and time again to rally together to help her own in need. As we roll into the final week before Thanksgiving, many of us are sharing our gratitude daily. We affirm indeed how blessed we all are just before heading out for Christmas trees and shopping galore for festive get togethers. Imagine, during all of this festivity, the cancer world will take precedence over any and all actions of the Joffrion family.
Having been on the receiving end of countless meals and chemo partners (those who would drive me and stay with me); I can tell you it really is the small things that add up and make a difference. In this week of giving thanks, would you consider making the Joffrion family a meal? If so, you may do so here:
Maria and Tommy have to make the 50 mile trek to Boston weekly. The amount of gas and wear and tear on their family vehicle will be more than most of us experience – not to mention everything else they must endure during their countless visits and everything in between. You want to help you say? How about a donation to the Team Tommy Transportation Fund? Let’s help them get a reliable vehicle to get to and from his treatments weekly. Let’s help them offset the cost of gas. Every dollar counts….every five dollars counts…..every ten dollars counts……this sweet, loving and smiling boy’s life depends upon it. You may donate here:
After all, Maria and Tommy are truly titanium. We are here to love them through this. There is NO better time to pay it forward than right now, this moment. Won't you join us?