The 5 W’s

15 Jul

Do you remember learning about the 5 W’s when you were in middle school?  When writing a good story, you need 5 W’s: Who, What, When, Where and Why.  And sometimes How.

Right now, as we’re starting down this path of Cora’s diagnosis, I can’t help but think about how the 5 W’s affect every minute of my mind lately.  And unfortunately, it’s not the diagram of a good story, it’s my life. Some are easier to answer than others.

WHO: This beautiful girl.
This beautiful girl who has overcome so much who was supposed to come home, settle in  and conquer the WORLD.
OK, OK, I know she will still do that. But it’s not going to be as easy as I had hoped.

WHAT: The inability of the body to block tumor growth.
Cora has hundred’s of skin cancers on her body.  This can go much deeper than that.  As she grows, she’s going to be watched for cancer of many other places. Her brain MRI came back clean, thank goodness.  She’ll have another one next year to be sure it’s still clean.

WHEN: For her ENTIRE life.
And while I can do this right now:
There will be a day when this is entirely her own battle to fight.  And that kills me.
And I’m sad for her.
Angry for her.
Heartbroken for her.
I want to fight the big demon for her that might chip away at her skin, mole by mole, surgery by surgery, scar by scar.
And I can’t.

WHERE: Right now? Everywhere.
There is cancer all over her body. Her legs, her arms, her torso, her face, her hands, her neck, her ears, IN her ears.  It’s everywhere. The topical medication has already started.  We’re doing 3 different creams in 3 different places, but one is just a nightmare that has to be put on with a toothpick. With the number of spots she has, it’s not happening.

She starts her laser treatments next week.  She’ll need to be sedated for them, again. 3rd time in a month she’ll be going under general anesthesia. When she is done, she’ll need to completely stay out of the sun (completely) for up to 48 hrs. Sunscreen will not even help.  She’ll have redness and welting and it will last for up to 10 days, or so I read.  She’ll feel like she was burned, I read. One patient online said it was SEVERE pain and she wouldn’t be going back for it ever again.

She’ll have to do this every 6-8 weeks. General anesthesia, red welts, pain, seclusion in our house and soon enough, likely issues with people making fun of her at school.  She’ll have to do this for years.

The doctor told me that maybe when she’s 7 or 8 she can do it without general anesthesia.  That’s 2-3 years from now of going ever 6 to 8 weeks for sedation, welting, pain and seclusion. Can you imagine going to school when your skin is all welty and red? Your face? I know kids! I have older kids. Kids aren’t always nice.

I’m looking up the cost of buying a gallon of sunscreen to take to school because Cora will need sunscreen on 30 minutes before every recess. Every day. No exceptions.  (I actually wish my big kids could get in on that sunscreen action, too!)  But how long before the teacher gets sick or forgets to send her to the nurse before recess?

WHY: Really!? Why!?
This is the one that I struggle with the most.  There is so much to it here.  IF this had been diagnosed in country, there is a huge likelihood that Cora would not have been able to come home. She would have been taken off the list.  When I ask WHY treatment wasn’t started immediately when discovered, I take peace in this.  Praise God it wasn’t started.  Because it wasn’t started is why I have my daughter today.

But the biggest WHY is simply WHY HER? WHY at all? WHY wasn’t what she went through for 5 years without parents enough to deal with in one life.  WHY does she have to walk through life coming to terms with everything there is to come to terms with when it comes to adoption (SO much!) and to add on to that, the fact the medical things throughout her life.

Because Cora has so many cancers at her age, she’s categorized as having a severe case. There is so much more here than just a few moles.  When people think of skin cancer, unless it’s melanoma, they think it’s pretty much no big deal. Not true when there are hundreds and the body will keep making them.

And if I’m being honest, I’d also say, WHY us? But I feel terrible for actually thinking that because I know 100% this isn’t a ME thing…it’s a CORA thing. She’ll deal with it forever.  I can do this. It is my loving responsibility of the role of a mother.  She has no choice.  I don’t want to be a cancer family.  I don’t want to be a cancer mom.  Who does? I don’t want her to be a cancer kid.

And that leads me to the H.

HOW: Am I going to be all she needs me to be?

I thought healing a heart was going to be a tough call to duty, but trying to heal a heart on top of being unable to heal her body is just so much.  How can I do this all?  How can I be all she (and my other 2. And my husband.) needs me to be?  How can I keep the hard and the bad away from her? How can I help her have as normal of a life as possible?  How can I keep her safe from the sun while letting her be a kid. How can I help her fit in? How can I protect her heart from the first person who makes her notice that she has something wrong with her? How can I protect my boys from this all? How can I wake up in the morning and know that there will never be a day where this isn’t in our life with the things that I know can come of this.

Thinking Biblically, I know that God doesn’t want us to fear. He doesn’t want me to be afraid for her future because He’s got it.  But I know too much. I’m not so sure I can just give up this fear right now. I know that a year down the road, 5 years down the road, life will have passed us and we will have settled into our life as it is and it might not look so scary then. Or maybe it will? Who knows.
I do know that cancer will be in our life then, but maybe the treatments will be easier than I thought. Our team of doctors will have their plan worked out. (Who wants a team of doctors for their kid? Not this mom!)  Cora will be older and able to understand the issue at hand. But I’ll always be her mom and I don’t know about you, but sometimes being the parent of a child undergoing medical stuff seems harder than the child going through the medical stuff.


4 Responses to “The 5 W’s”

  1. Kimberly Berg July 15, 2012 at 4:46 am #

    This is so sad. I’m so sorry for Cora to have to deal with this throughout her life. God gave her such a special family to help her through it and care for her though. She is going to be OK because of her wonderful family, and you guys are going to be OK because of your love for her and your faith in Christ. I will keep you all in my prayers and may God protect and bless your precious little girl.

  2. Jenn Galstad July 15, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    I’ve been thinking about you just about everyday. I can’t believe what you are facing and will have to deal with going forward….. I feel so powerless , but one thing i can do…you are always, always in my prayers.

  3. stephanie July 16, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

    The toughest questions are the ones which have no answers. I so wish this wasn’t the truth for Cora and for your family. I wish there was something I could humanly do to take it away. As I know you do, too!
    But the truth that remains is that you are the perfect mommy for Cora and you are right…God’s got this.
    I will continue to pray for you all!!
    You are an amazing woman.

  4. daysofwonderandgrace July 16, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

    Thank you for being honest about how it feels. There is almost no time harder than a new, unexpected diagnosis. It will take a while for “new” and “normal” to come together. But you already have been blessed with a “big” view of God and someday you’ll see that through these challenges you have found and know him to be even bigger than you imagined! And you will be giving Cora and the boy’s the very most precious thing of all: experience relying on God’s sovereignty through it all:adoption, cancer, whatever else God has in store. I continue to pray for all of you!

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