It's been just over a week since Edward's diagnosis. After being admitted to hospital soon after diagnosis, the last week in hospital has been a whirlwind of meeting paediatric oncology staff, familiarising ourselves with hospital routine, trying to be calm, loving and dependable parents for both our kids, all whilst tracking up a very steep learning curve. I can't count how many times I have wished that I could take this illness, and all its traumatic procedures and treatment, for my darling boy...
And our Lucy, Ned's 5-year-old sister, who has been amazingly cooperative, gentle, tolerant... but yet, the occasional emotional outbursts and meltdowns indicate that, despite her seeming strength, she still hasn't come to terms with the significance of Ned's illness and its implications on our family life.
Her life also seems, unjustifiably, more fragile now to me. Suddenly I only have one healthy child (not counting the one in utero), and a random car accident or another life-threatening diagnosis seems much more tangible and possible than it did before - something I hadn't even considered when she was our only child before Ned was born.
And yet, since we've spent this time in hospital, life has felt surreal and removed. Time in hospital is never nice, but when it's never happened before, there's a "novelty" about it - albeit an unwelcome one. As such, combined with the generous support and offers of help, the reality and chronicity of the illness haven't quite set in for us, I don't think. Driving Ned home on Friday afternoon, in our regular car, to our familiar house, and into our quiet family weekend, I experienced an overwhelming surge of emotions which I thought I'd dealt with... We had to integrate this abrupt, nasty change into our previously "normal" lives.
Despite these fears and emotions, our faith in God is our main anchor and comfort, and it buoys us at all times. We don't necessarily think that He caused or allowed the leukaemia to come about, but we do believe that His hand is in all things, and regardless of what the future holds, He will hold us in the palm of His hands, comfort us and guide us through this unfamiliar territory.
People have said to me: "that's just so unfair for you guys / Ned!" Yes, it's certainly undesired and very unfortunate, but I don't think it's unfair. Ned's been raised and nurtured in a loving, comfortable and happy home, on the whole. In contrast to the children in daily news broadcasts from low-income countries currently, he has not wanted for anything, has access to great medical care, and can be a child, without any major responsibilities disproportionate to his 2 years of age. We have a wide, caring support network - our school, church, friends, family... Really, Ned could not be in a better position to fight this leukaemia, and for this we are ever grateful.
Although these last 9 days have sometimes felt like an eternity, and hospital hours tick by ever-slowly, I still surprise myself several times each day when I remember the reality now: We are Cancer parents. We are a Cancer family. And I dearly hope and pray we will be a triumphant one.