Looking back on my journey, I realize a few things. One is that I am self-admittedly, somewhat selfish. I think all too often I only recognized how difficult this journey has been for ME, and not for those around me (at least not publicly acknowledging that). I want to take the time here to recognize my caregivers and how crucial they have been to get me where I am today...
Let me talk about my parents first. I write this with tears beginning to form in my eyes because the emotions and memories that are surfacing are real, true and heartfelt. Besides my husband and children, my parents are the important people in my life. Throughout my entire cancer journey, they have been vital to my well-being, both physically and emotionally. They have sat with me through countless doctor's appointments, scans (just as anxious as I), and most importantly, stayed with me throughout all my days in the hospital (which was over around 45 days), never once leaving my side, even through the night. You could often find them sleeping on a small cot in my hospital room every night, holding my hand when I was scared, embracing me when I was sad or in pain, rubbing lotion on me when I was itchy, washing my hair, fetching me outside hospital food, or holding a bowl while I was throwing up.
My parents never ONCE LEFT MY SIDE. They have always been stronger than I have been (although I'm sure not always inside). They have always supported me 100% in every decision I have made. They have always had complete and utter FAITH that I would be healed. I know, without a doubt that I couldn't have made it through those experiences without them. I couldn't have made it through those treatments ALONE. I am deeply indebted to them and there is simply no greater sacrifice or gift that they could've given to me than to have been there with me during those difficult times...
But then I think about how hard that must have been for THEM. I can't even imagine how painful it must have been to watch their own child suffer like that. I'm sure that often what they felt was a bit of helplessness-- wishing somehow that they could trade places with me. Why? Because that's what parents do. They love their children unconditionally. I know that if my own child was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, that I would pray that I could somehow take this pain away and trade places. And so, my heart aches a little to picture how hard it must have been to watch me go through this...Maybe sometimes these struggles are harder for the people around them than the one with the actual challenge. I don't think that caregivers get enough credit for all that they do and have to deal with.
All I can say, is THANK YOU MOM AND DAD for being the best caregivers I could ever ask for. My hats go off to you because you were the real troopers! You always showed such amazing strength, hope, and optimism. I am simply in awe of how you handled everything.
I also cannot leave out another caregiver that played a vital role in my recovery. And that was my husband. My dear, sweet husband stayed behind with the kids at home while I flew to CA for treatments. I can't imagine doing that. I know that more than anything in the world, he wanted to be there with me. He often felt "left out in the dark" because he wasn't physically there with me. But he was though...He was always there-- emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. My husband was just as important in supporting and helping me as my parents were. He was the one that "held the fort down" and made sure things at home ran as smoothly as possible. For the parent of two young children without their mother around frequently, this was a difficult task, I'm sure (and one that we couldn't have managed without the help of MANY friends either). My husband managed to do a supberb job though and our kids well-being showed for it because they remained well-adjusted, happy, taken care of, loved, and nurtured while I was gone. I am so grateful for him in my life. He has always been "my rock", unwavering, never hopeless, always abounding in faith and strength. He truly is the light of my life. I can't imagine life without him!
I hope my parents and my husband know how much they mean to me. They are truly inspiring and the most selfless, compassionate, loving, and influential people in my life. I like to think that I am still here largely because of them!