So here we are at the end September – the end of Childhood Cancer Awareness month. I have spent all month linking sites like Alex’s Lemonade Stand, St Jude’s Hospital, Gary Brackett IMPACT foundation and more to my Facebook page. Unfortunately … just like last year the national media barely spent a day talking about Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Maybe one day Childhood Cancer will get as much recognition as Breast Cancer. I will keep trying!
I struggled last week with deciding to share my own story about childhood cancer and how it effected our family. For anyone who may not know I do have – tucked away in my laptop – 9 pages summarizing nearly 2 years of brain tumors and chemotherapy. I wanted to share it – to make this whole month more personal to people who know our family. But I still can’t. I revised it on Monday. Revised it again on Tuesday. I thought 9 pages was way too long for a blog (pretty sure there’s a word count restriction) so I thought I could cut out some things. Then it didn’t feel right. So I read it one more time yesterday and decided it’s still not ready to be shared. Or maybe more specifically I’m still not ready to share it.
But…. I do have some funny things to share that would never have happened to me if we wouldn’t have had a child with a brain tumor. The first two things are the obvious running jokes in our family. Number one: You need that like you need a hole in your head – Duh I already have a hole in my head. Number two: What it’s not like it’s brain surgery!
Then there was the time I went to the dentist. The night before the dentist appointment Fox 59 had interviewed the firefighters and us at the fire station about the Teagan’s Dance fundraiser. I was getting my teeth cleaned and the dental assistant (who is very nice) was making typical dental assistant conversation and asked what my husband did for a living and I said he was a firefighter. This is where it gets funny… She asked if I had seen the news story last night about the firefighters having a fundraiser for the firefighters daughter with cancer. There was an awkward pause and I just answered – “yes I saw it.” She went on about how nice they all were and how it was such a sad story and she felt so bad for the family. I just sat in the chair, smiling and nodding. What else exactly do you do at that point? Then a few more topics down the road she asked if I had kids and I said “yes a boy and a girl.” She then asked “What are their names?” I honestly considered lying because I knew when I said Teagan she would immediately get embarrassed. I told her my son was Dawson and my daughter was Teagan. She left the room. She came back, very red-faced and asked “Why didn’t you tell me you were Teagan’s mom?” We still laugh about it when I get my teeth cleaned.
Then there was getting my hair and make up done for the Teagan’s Dance. I went to a girl who was all of 18 and I was her last customer of the day because she was going to have her hair and make up done to go to the prom later. I immediately regretted my decision. Unlike the dental assistant (after getting over her embarrassment) who was easy to talk to – this girl and I had little in common. She felt sorry for me because it had been over 10 years since I had my hair and makeup done by someone else – that was her greatest concern for me. I wanted so badly to explain to her that life after prom isn’t exactly like what you see on The Hills. I did a lot of polite smiling and nodding. By the way make up has changed greatly since I wore it in the 90’s. There is some type of “fixant” that has to sprayed on your face to make the make up stay in place – it was like hairspray for your face. And also – lipstick now hurts. It stings to be more accurate. She wanted to “plump” my lips so she used lipstick that had the equivalent of 22 bee stings in it. My lips were plump – but I looked like I needed Benadryl.
And the final funny moment….. We had taken our dog Ramey to the vet on a Sunday because he had a hot spot that had gotten so infected he couldn’t walk. The only person there on Sunday was one of the vets that I hadn’t met before but he fixed Ramey up and we came out front to pay. He was struggling with the computer to get the payment processed and the bill printed. After about 15 minutes he was getting really frustrated and embarrassed. I suppose he was looking to impress me and maybe save face as he told me “I can perform brain surgery but I’m not familiar with this new software.” Again I went with the polite smiling and nodding. Because what I wanted to say was “Really?… that would probably impress just about anyone else in the world but me. You can do brain surgery on my dog? That’s great. Let me give you the number of the guy who did brain surgery on my daughter – why don’t you call him because I’m guessing he’s also smart enough to figure out the billing software!!”
Maybe they aren’t funny to anyone else… but they make me smile when I remember them. There are some others too – like the day I was stuck for 2 hours at chemotherapy with one other lady. She was there with her grandson who had leukemia. She felt it necessary to keep talking to me which was OK – except she was oriental and she knew about 25 words in English. And when she said leukemia it started with an “r.” I smiled politely and nodded a lot – and tried really hard not to start laughing after the 5th or 6th time she said “He has ruekemia – it’s so sad, so so sad.”
I guess word to the wise…. If you see me smiling and nodding politely…..STOP TALKING! Because I’ve never actually came unglued on anyone. I saw it happen once – I was in my doctors office and a woman struck up a conversation with another woman about how having kids was so overwhelming. The one woman just really didn’t know when to stop talking and was getting annoying. The other woman sat politely and nodded for awhile but then something snapped and she told her that her daughter had recently passed away from leukemia so she really couldn’t relate anymore. The look on her face said she instantly regretted it. The other woman abruptly got up and left. She looked at me and said “I shouldn’t have done that.” And all I said was “It’s OK.” Because quite frankly it was OK. But I also know she felt bad about snapping – so I took that as a lesson learned and have just always kept quiet even if I want to say something.
Maybe next year I will share the whole story…