Have you ever asked yourself what it would be like to be a child growing up inside the lair of the beast? What if you were just 9 years old when your mother was diagnosed with breast cancer? What would life be like wondering if your mother was going to die from a beast you really could not see or feel when you were just 6 years old? To watch her lose her hair, her breast and all the innocence you once knew? These are the struggles so many children face each and every day. Many wake each morning to face the beast overhead as they watch their mother’s battle breast cancer, their fathers fight to keep it together and as they themselves try to be strong for those they love.
My precious boys, Joshua and Micah, were just babies in retrospect when the beast first came to knock on our door, to drag us down the rabbit’s hole and into Underland. They had no say so in the matter; all they could do was run to keep up. I can’t tell you how many times children are over looked, after all they bounce back right? If you lean toward the old, undeterred, dust covered book on most adult book shelves then children do not understand what is really happening. But I beg to differ and I challenge you to tell that to my boys who still worry even though I am in remission if they will wake to my smile in the morning.
How my heart has broken through the years for my children as I have watched them struggle through the pain, the hurt and the uncertainty of breast cancer. I have seen them struggle with school, with the distance of friends and the ever changing pace of growing up in this odd place we call Wonderland.
The pain children feel is a total different kind of hurt than we as adults feel. We can cope, struggle through the pain and come out the rabbit’s hole possibly in disarray but still we can push through to the other end right? Children of breast cancer sort of get lost in the tunnels. They end up spending all their life growing up in Wonderland because it is all they know. Do they ever adjust? Yes, they most certainly do becoming well adjusted, thriving children but their normal is never fully their playmates normal. The hole dug beside the family tree is only visible to their eyes so most days their playmates have no idea what they see or feel. Sadly no matter how hard these children try to hide the entrance to Underland, to this Wonderland, they still end up falling down the tunnel quite often. After all this is home is it not?
Do they still dance in the sun, and kick the ball around, sleep at night? Yes they do, but imagine if you will, going to bed dreaming of the sky turning black. Maybe think of being on the bus every afternoon wondering what awaits when you get there… no, not daydreaming about what you are going to do when you get home from school but being desperate to know if your mom is going to be alive when you finally do.These are the very struggles many children battle in the face of mothers with breast cancer. They grow up in a world filled with uncertainty, lost innocence and worry. Honestly taking a spin in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups are just part of an average day here in Wonderland as they grow up in this crazy land of the Red Queen. Day is night and night is day, nothing is ever as it seems and these precious children are forced to try and turn things right, holding onto those they love believing it is all up to them to save the day, to defeat the Jaberrwocky.
Precious are their hearts, their tiny lives torn apart by circumstances they have had no control over. How my heart breaks knowing there are days my children have lived with no direction, lost, wondering in and out through the many tunnels here in Underland. True they have had no sympathy from some adults along the way, those who because of their own fear have overlooked them, struck out at them or failed to understand their needs. Yet they have risen above it all, struggled yes to move those mountains, yet I have watched in awe as my own children have grown from lost little ones into strong, compassionate, forgiving young men.
Today I shout to the world my love, awe and appreciation for my boys, Joshua and Micah. You are my strength and you both have brought more joy than you can imagine into my life. I am inspired by your strength, by your undying joy, your unyielding faith, and by your integrity in the struggle. Yes, life may not have turned out the way we envisioned it, but you have given me more joy, more hope, than I could have ever imagined. Growing up in Wonderland may not have been on the map, but you two have sure done a great job at navigating us through Underland.
~ Your Mom, Christina