Today on Lionfighters, we have a guest post from Melissa Fidone. Melissa’s 5-year-old son, Sebastiano (Yanno), was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 4 and is currently in remission.
Cancer causes a lot of change—changes in daily routine, physical appearance, lifestyle, etc. When my son, Yanno, was diagnosed with leukemia at age 4, our lives changed. He had to start getting treatments, we had to prepare for hair loss—all of the changes that come with cancer.
But there was one thing that didn’t change, and that was my family’s determination to stay strong. In fact, that determination kept on growing. As Yanno continued to fight leukemia, our family learned how to have strength and to live in the moment.
Here are 6 things I learned from our family’s cancer journey.
1. There Will Be Setbacks—And That’s Okay.
About a month into treatment, Yanno had a stroke and seizure from a blood clot. We found out the clot was from a chemo drug he had gotten back on day four of his treatment.
That was probably the most difficult time. We weren’t just dealing with the treatment—we had to completely rebuild his motor skills. Just a month before, he had been climbing trees. And then suddenly, we were teaching him to how to sit and stand again, and how to get into a car.
It was hard, but it was also a really humbling experience. He recovered from that, and he’s back to climbing trees and running around. You would never know that he had such a big setback. That’s a life lesson right there: It doesn’t matter if you get knocked down. If you work hard, you can recover.
2. Things Aren’t Always As Bad As You Expect.
When Yanno got cancer, it was different than I expected. Yes, the first few months were definitely hard. But soon, it was just part of our routine.
It was pretty smooth sailing, and it felt like we had more normal days than abnormal days. People always say to me, “I don’t know how you do this.” And really, it’s just that it’s our new normal. This is our life, and we just go with it.
It’s smart to go into hard situations with the expectation that it will be difficult—but it’s also good to have an open mind and know that these situations aren’t impossible. They can become normal, and they don’t have to be so hard to get through.
3. Letting Go Of Control Is Everything.
When your kid is sick, you want to do everything you can to make him better. So, when it seems like you can’t control his health and well-being, it can be difficult to cope. I’ve found that accepting that lack of control makes a huge difference.
When I take Yanno to the hospital, I put my trust in his physicians. I accept the fact that when it comes to the medicine, they know everything—so I don’t have to. I don’t need to know every detail about cancer, or read about every side effect of each medication, because that’s not in my control.
4. Even The Worst Situations Have A Silver Lining.
Before Yanno was diagnosed, he was in so much pain. We kept going back to the hospital or the doctor, trying to figure out what was wrong.
That’s the worst thing in the world—to see your kid in pain. When we finally got a diagnosis, it was actually a relief. We knew what it was, so we were going to be able to do something about it.
Childhood cancer is not a good situation. But the silver lining was that by getting a diagnosis, he was going to feel better. It’s a tough thing to hear, but there is good that can come out of it.
5. Stay Positive.
My family has a positive attitude about cancer. But I don’t think our attitude has affected Yanno as much as his has affected us. He never thinks, “Woe is me.” When he goes in for treatment, he doesn’t cry or run out of the room.
When he’s done, he comes out and high-fives us. By doing that, he’s taught me to be more positive, and we’re able to feed off of each other’s positivity.
Because of that positivity, we’re able to really enjoy life and be thankful for the little things that some people take for granted. For example, he had to miss some preschool because of his treatment. And now we’ve realized how grateful we are that he was able to go at all, and that he’ll be able to go back this year.
6. Illness Doesn’t Have To Be Scary.
In some ways, you would never even know that Yanno was sick. Even when he was going through chemo, he was always so energetic and excited for everything.
He was like any other kid—the only difference was that when he played with his sister, they would play, “I have leukemia” rather than other games. I think that game was good—it helped him accept cancer.
Yanno is also very into sports, especially wrestling. He was able to overcome cancer struggles by having that fighting mindset. He would say, “I’m going to get big and strong, and I’m going to smash leukemia.” Instead of being scared, Yanno was ready to fight.
We all get scared sometimes, but Yanno doesn’t live his life in fear. It’s one of the many points about him that have been an inspiration to all of us.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.