It was only after I got pregnant with Mira did I start to think about what it must have been like for my parents to be pregnant with me, their second daughter. Did their pregnancy with me fly by in a blur since there was now a toddler keeping them preoccupied? Was “second child syndrome” in full effect? Did they wonder how they could ever love someone as much as their first child?
Likely due to my magnetic personality, they do love me a lot after all.
It was exactly six months ago today that my mom and I were in Mira’s room and I got the call with my cancer diagnosis. I still vividly remember it. My parents were in town to help us post-delivery – specifically, for my mom to help me with post c-section recovery – but after The Call, there was so much more help needed. Their one-way tickets remained open as I needed emotional, and later, physical support. My mom spent her days (and sometimes nights) caring for Mira, teaching Diya things (like our home address!), cooking us all healthy meals, and preparing special concoctions for me to expedite my recovery or help ease my chemo side effects. My dad was my nutritionist, my exercise buddy, and my companion to many chemo and other Stanford appointments. They were my arms in the weeks following each surgery – lifting Mira in and out of her crib, driving Diya to school when Ash was traveling, and even hiding the lawn chairs in the garden shed in anticipation of the overly-hyped “Storm of 12/11/14” . There are no words to fully express how thankful I am for all my parents have done for us these past six months.
We all know to express love and support for the patient who is diagnosed, but it is easy to overlook how much such a diagnosis can affect those folks that are suddenly caretakers. Whether a spouse, a parent, or a child, a caretaker’s life is significantly disrupted as well. Their stresses magnify, as not only are they also emotionally impacted by the diagnosis, but they are likely also taking on a greater share of the responsibility at home. Life is strained and tiring for the caretaker, but they probably feel unable to even vent about it, feeling guilty at the thought of it.
My parents put their own lives and life projects on hold to spend the majority of the past six months living with me to help us through this ordeal. While they would do it again in a second, I also know it must not have been easy on them. As recovery progresses well and I can once again lift up the girls, my parents returned home yesterday. Nonetheless, they continue to provide love and support from afar. Just today, I texted my mom from Mira’s room referencing how crazy it is that it’s been six months since we heard the diagnosis together. She responded with an acknowledgment that that was a bad day, but a reminder that it is now behind us.
Yes, the scariest parts are now behind us, but Mom and Dad, I will always remember and cherish what all you did (and continue to do) for me…for us. Love you with all my heart.