I want to thank those who wrote response comments to my post the other day. It helps. It helps a lot. Sometimes just knowing that someone is listening, or reading in this case really help a great deal. I can really feel the love and positive thoughts and I look forward to many more comments.
I want all of you to know that I appreciate you.
I think it is important to note that my experiences and my PTSD are unique to me. However, I do want to mention that life after the death of a child to pediatric cancer is still very much a part of pediatric cancer. It is a reality. It does not go away when your child dies. Its not just fighting for a diagnosis, getting a diagnosis, chemotherapy, radiation and surgery and countless hours crying and countless hours of emergency calls to the doctor and drives to the ER as well as countless hours of hospital stays and staying awake making sure your child is doing ok. Oh, did I mention the countless hours worrying where money is going to come from to pay for gas, food and a mortgage. (over 60% of families diagnosed with pediatric cancer file bankruptcy) There are so many facets to this that only a parent/caregiver of a child with pediatric cancer can know them all. You can not pretend to know.
The reason I post is to vent my own feelings and it helps me process. My other motive is to work on documenting what happens after. I hope to draw out other fathers who have lost a child to pediatric cancer and to make the grieving process and struggles aware to the public.
My daughter was killed by cancer, she was an infant. 18 Months old. Full of life and such a great large personality. She was a person. A wonderful person who cared for others, loved sharing and loved her parents and sometimes more importantly, her faithful Grape Ape and loyal puppy Fallon. Life for me after her death is still very much a part of how pediatric cancer effects parents and families. The grieving process is raw. Very raw. In my opinion, one can not grieve without being raw at some point. I cry a lot. I am not sure when, if ever that will go away. It may lesson. I just do not know right now and I am the only one who will determine that. I will not move on at anyone else's pace. I will move on at my pace.
I am a bit unique though. I was the caregiver to both Kezia and Saoirse. I almost lost my entire family to cancer. Hodgkins Lymphoma (Kezia's Cancer) is relatively easy to treat - however it does kill people. When she was diagnosed it scared the shit out of me. That still haunts me and I still worry about Kezia's cancer coming back. I could not work and we almost lost our home - which I would have gladly lost to make sure my family had medical treatment and a car to get back and fourth. We had a lot of help and for that I am forever grateful. That is another post though. Soon.
Sometimes people do not like to hear the raw truth about what families go through when their child is diagnosed with cancer. I am not talking about an adult child ( I am not comfortable commenting on that because I do not have an adult child). Sometimes I think that the media really paints a different picture to try to spare the feelings of the general public. Actually, not sometimes. Most of the time. Yes there are a lot of kids who survive. Unfortunately, in the case of my child and most others, her cancer has a very low survival rate. That is a reality. Not an emotional reaction. The public needs to know the horrors of pediatric cancer. All of the horrors. The public needs to know the raw data described by a father who lost his daughter. I wish my story stopped on December 13 2011. I wished she was deemed NED (No Evidence of Disease) for more that 3 weeks. 3 weeks is about how long it took for her cancer to aggressively come back. The reality is, it did not stop. So I will write and continue to give the general public the raw data. It will make a difference.
The images and sounds I describe are very real. These are things most parents may see and hear when their child dies of pediatric cancer. It is a horrible death and the most helpless feeling one can possibly feel. Watching my child die was the most horrific scene I have ever experienced.
I can describe it as violent actually.
I can not say it was majestic. It was NOT meant to be. She was meant to grow up happy, live a life, make friends, do her own thing, maybe travel the world. She is not in a better place. A better place is sitting here with us, playing with Fallon and her toys, learning how to read, speak Gaelic and Spanish, going to Ireland and playing in her yard.
I describe reality.
I needed people to know this. I want people to know that there is no easy way to move through this. There is no special book or special saying that will magically make me just "move on". I will move on, and in many ways I have. I need to be there for Kezia - she is so wonderful and awesome. I need to be there for me. I need to be there for my life and my family. Writing helps this.
I want to thank everyone who reads this. I ask that you please share my blog when I post. Sometimes it may seem like rambling - but to the parent who has a child with pediatric cancer or who lost a child to pediatric cancer, my blog is not rambling, it is a harsh reality - something familiar.
It will get better.