I’m young for a cancer patient and at a young age I already now need to learn a lot of new things in life such as dealing with grieving parents. Less than 5% of breast cancer diagnoses occur in women under 40, so I guess I just rolled a 1 in the dice game of life on this one.
Going to the hospital for treatment
It’s odd going to the hospital for treatment with my parents, because until people see my bald head and my port, I can tell they assume we’re there for my mom or dad, not for me. I never fail to catch the sympathy on people’s faces when they realize I’m the patient, though. I appreciate their sympathy, but in reality, my diagnosis and treatment has been almost as hard on my parents as it’s been on me. My mom has been more open about her feelings. She says regularly that she wishes she was going through all this instead of me, which on my very worst days, I almost wish as well. That’s what society sets us up for, after all. It’s the parents that get cancer as they age, and their children who are supposed to care for them. It’s not supposed to be the other way around. Most days, though, I’m grateful it’s me and not my mom.
Aside from the cancer
Aside from the cancer, I’m otherwise young and healthy. I know I can recover from treatment more quickly than my mom would ever be able to. My dad, on the other hand, hasn’t really talked about his feelings. He doesn’t want to burden me with them. I know he feels a terrible guilt, though, like he failed to protect me in some way. It took him a long time to deal with the fact that he didn’t do anything wrong. And it wasn’t any of the food they fed or didn’t feed me as a child, it wasn’t because of the barium swallow I got as an infant to check in my collapsed esophagus. It wasn’t because he didn’t protect me. Cancer picks who it picks, and there’s nothing he nor anyone could have done differently to change it. Luckily one of his close friends is a top cancer researcher, and hearing from an expert that there’s no rhyme or reason has helped him move forward. He’s been an amazing father, both before my diagnosis and since. I wouldn’t trade him for anyone.