“You are so strong.”
This is something cancer parents hear often. When people say it to me, I want to tell them, “No, I’m not. I don’t feel strong. I feel terrified.”
But that doesn’t matter, because when your child is fighting cancer, strength is your only option. So, you put on your tough face and dig deep, trying to be strong enough for another day.
But what happens when the strength runs out? Where do you turn when you don’t know how much longer you can keep this up? For me, it was tough, but I would try my best to find that strength.
Here are 4 things I’ve done to feel strong enough during my son’s fight against cancer.
In moments of sheer terror, I would force myself to say out loud, “Jesus, I trust in you.” It was in those moments when I was full of doubt that I knew I needed to declare my faith out loud.
So, I would say the words. By saying them out loud, I somehow felt they were more true. They brought me strength when I thought it was gone.
2. Lean On My Husband.
My husband, Justin, and I had a lot of ups and downs in our marriage throughout our son’s cancer treatment. But when it all came down to it, he was the only other person in this whole scary world who could possibly understand what I was going through—because he was going through it, too.
When I felt like I wasn’t strong enough—when I was afraid of everything—I would confide in him. We’d sit for long hours around the firepit, confessing our darkest fears and doing our best to lean on each other as we braced for the days to come.
3. Talk To Other Cancer Parents.
They say misery loves company, but I don’t know about that. What I do know is that when you are miserable, lonely, and afraid, sometimes the biggest comfort comes from someone else saying, “Me too.”
As humans, we need a pack—a tribe of people with unified struggles and similar life stories. There is no replacement for talking with other cancer parents when things get tough. Sometimes, you just need to hear someone say, “Yes, I get that. I feel like that, too.”
4. Look At My Son.
Just looking at Cooper helped me feel stronger. Kids, especially when they are very young, have an uncanny ability to focus on the day at hand. They don’t get caught up in worrying about tomorrow or the next day like adults do.
I do not need to waste energy worrying if I’ll be strong enough for the future. Right now is what matters: This moment and not the thousands of possible “what ifs” that are tormenting me.
Strength is a tricky thing, and the truth is that sometimes it just runs out. We break down. We cry or scream. That’s okay. What matters isn’t that we fall down. It’s that we find the strength to get back up again.
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