Updated: Sep 29, 2020
By: Dayle Bugalski
There are so many emotions that a parent goes through during the course of the journey that begins when their child is diagnosed with cancer. Sadness, despair and terror are just the tip of the iceberg emotions.
However, one that sticks with me most and one that I feel is not discussed often is anger. But, not the anger that you would think you have when you hear those words “Your child has cancer.”
I’m talking about the anger you feel towards everyone and everything else around you.
Anger that people are still going about their business, because for them nothing has changed. Anger that people are still posting pictures on social media of their family vacations, first day of school, and All-Star Little League tournaments when your child is in a hospital bed receiving his second blood transfusion of the day. Your thought wander to ‘Don’t they know my two-year-old was just diagnosed with leukemia?’
There are lots of ways that anger creeps up on you. There is anger that they get to be a normal family doing normal family things while you are learning how to flush your child’s PICC line in preparation for them to finally be coming home after more than a week of being inpatient. You have anger that the life you were living is over, effective immediately, and you’ve been thrust into this new and unknown world of will my child live or die?
There. Is. So. Much Anger. And then, you finally get to come home to settle into your new normal of appointments and chemo and feeding tubes and steroids and losing hair and vomiting and so much more, and a well-meaning friend tries to console you by saying “I could never do what you’re doing,” as if you’re some sort of magical unicorn parent doing the work of all of the angels and saints. Don’t be ridiculous. Of course you could, and you would if you had to because...
It’s what parents do.
As much as I’d like to lay in bed and cry all day because ‘What if…?’ or watch movies for hours on end with my son who can’t walk anymore because he’s got such bad chemo-induced neuropathy, there’s still a job I to show up to, albeit maybe a little less frequently than usual because you have an employer that is supportive enough to grant you time away when you need to be away.
But remember, not everyone is that fortunate. There are still bills that have to be paid. There are still groceries that have to be purchased. There are still siblings who need your attention and love. For many there is no time off.
You might be broken, and you might be angry, but you still have to move on because life doesn't stop.