The day you learn that your child has cancer, everything you knew changes. Your life will never be the same. And neither will you, your child, your spouse, etc. Your life that used to revolve around family time, play dates, friends, church, work, school, will now revolve around doctor’s appointments, chemo, radiation, scans, hospital stays, worry and exhaustion. It is very normal to feel isolated. No one else you know personally is going through this and as much as they try to support you and lend a shoulder to cry on, they will never be able to understand the depths of this cancer battle. And you can’t expect them to.
Olivia was diagnosed with cancer at just 4 months old. Everything that I had expected to face as a new mother to twins was now out the window and replaced with something else. I remember being told by the nurses as we walked through the oncology floor for the first time that eventually this will all seem “normal.” At the time Brett and I looked at each other and thought never. How could this ever be normal to us! But they were right. It never becomes easy or pleasant to go to the oncology floor and watch as our daughter had her port accessed, her blood drawn, spending long days at the hospital holding her while she received yet another round of chemo or another MRI. But eventually it became routine. We pretty much knew what to expect and we came to love our oncology doctors and nurses like dear friends or family. They were in this battle with us!
We learned that in order to survive this cancer nightmare we needed to find a new normal as a family. This meant making the most of every second we had together. Taking our children on outings as much as possible while keeping Olivia safe. Keeping a routine whether we were traveling or at home. It wasn’t easy but it was necessary. Despite our deep level of exhaustion and our constant worry I know that we made the most of our time with Olivia. We held her, read to her, sang to her, told her we loved her, taught her new skills, helped her play with her brother, let her spend time with friends and extended family, and just cherished her. There is no doubt in my mind that Olivia enjoyed her life despite her cancer. And she knew every day how deeply she was loved by her entire family. We didn’t do this because we thought she might die. In fact, we were so committed to her health that I never thought for a second that she wouldn’t beat this monster. We did this because we loved our daughter and our son, and we wanted to enjoy being a family even though nothing was normal.
Today 46 families in the U.S. will sit inside doctors offices and hospitals and learn that their child is battling cancer. And 7 others will tell their baby goodbye for the last time as they leave their earthly bodies and fly to Heaven because of cancer. We established the Olivia Caldwell Foundation to honor our daughter’s life and the hard battle she fought by funding pediatric brain cancer research to find a cure. You can help us honor our daughter and the thousands of other children that have died this year by donating to our cause. Any donation big or small helps. You can donate now by clicking on the Donate Now button to the right of this post, or by sending a check to the Olivia Caldwell Foundation P.O. Box 1112 Rawlins, WY 82301. Visit our Facebook page to learn more. https://www.facebook.com/OliviaCaldwellFoundation
One thought on “Finding Normalcy When Normal Doesn’t Exist”
Thanks for sharing your story. My heart breaks for you. Cancer is indeed a monster that touches us all at some point. We don’t know why these things happen, we don’t know why children are taken from us so soon. But we can hold faith that God is in charge and He knows best. Your little Olivia is in heaven and she’s looking down you and your family. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time. Stay strong! – Donna