December 11th, 2015
| Caregiver: Rhabdomyosarcoma
The holiday season can be difficult for people touched by cancer. In this heartwarming story, one mother received a Christmas miracle when she least expected it.
In December of 2011 my little 22-month-old son Griffin was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and aggressive type of muscle cancer that grew in his right eye orbit. We spent three weeks in the hospital trying to get a diagnosis and biopsy before returning home on Dec 20th with our answer: CANCER. I got a freaking disease in my baby for Christmas. I was a mess inside but an emotionless zombie on the outside. Mentally, I knew I had a job to do but no idea how I was actually going to do it.
After living in the hospital for three weeks, I was dreading coming home to an empty house. We never had time to put up any decorations, a tree, or even a few lights outside. I was dreading coming around the corner to see my sad house - the only one that wouldn't be lit up on the block. It kind of represented how I was feeling. Sad, dark and alone.
But as my husband drove our car around the corner, he grabbed my hand. There were lights on our maple trees, ribbons on our bushes, lights all along our house. Our little house was beaming with holiday cheer! How did this happen?!
I ran out of the car in my hospital slippers into the snow to watch the wonder of our house. I stood in the snow, looking up at my trees. I knew immediately that this was not a professional job at all. It looked like Christmas barfed on my lawn. The lights were mismatched and crooked. Any other year, this would have bothered the OCD inside me, but this year? My heart sang! I've never been on the receiving end of a Christmas miracle, it was absolutely amazing!
As it turns out, my co-workers contacted my Mum to see how they could help my family. And then they took up a collection of old Christmas lights (that explains the mismatching lights) and then some volunteers came over the night before to attack my house. But when they got there, they realized that they didn't have a ladder and all the short people volunteered to help! Haha! So only the very lowest branches of my maple trees had lights, the short bushes had ribbons, and they had lined the middle of my house with lights- not the roof top. Apparently someone had tripped on and landed on the drain spout of my house, falling and crushing it. Hearing this story made me cry so hard, happy tears. These were my awesome co-workers and family, nutty and amazing.
This experience made me notice that I craved a sense of normal in my life. I did not want to be a Cancer Mama. I was forced into it. Once you are diagnosed with Cancer, your little world is tipped upside down, people don’t treat you the same, and you don't even recognize yourself in the mirror. The familiar feeling of Christmas lights in my trees and wrapping my house in cheer was the EXACT pick-me-up my little family needed.
If someone you know has been diagnosed during the holiday season, please reach out and see what they need. Suggest what you can do. A lot of people would say "just tell me what you need". Well sometimes, I don't know what I need! You could offer to cook Christmas dinner, put a tree up, mail cards, bake cookies, shovel their driveway, or even just have a nice chat with a cup of cocoa to warm the soul. Most would take you up on your offer and it makes it easier for your loved one to accept your help when you provide ideas.
Happy Holidays and remember, you are never alone.
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