I’ll never forget those first couple of days following Felix’s diagnosis. We were welcomed onto the Oncology ward with compassion and empathy but the thing that I could not get over was how cool, calm and collected the other Mums looked. They looked at ease, at home, at one with where they were. I, on the other hand, felt like a bumbling fool. I couldn’t speak without crying and when I could speak I couldn’t find the words. I didn’t know what to say or how to say it. I clearly had lots in common with these other Mums, but at the beginning, I had no idea what.
Six months on I can now consider and reflect on life as an oncology Mum. There are families right now who are trying their very hardest to keep it together, day in and day out for the sake of their child, for the sake of the siblings, for the sake of their partner and for the sake of their extended family and friends. It is tough, really tough especially when your child has to spend a long time in hospital. It is at this time when you get to know the other Mums; these Mums really are something else. I have seen Mums fight tooth and nail for their child’s needs. They are the experts. They know and understand their child’s treatment plan, their blood counts, their medication regime, their fluid intake, their emotional stability. They will demand that their child’s treatment starts despite no beds being available, they will press for the blood results which may result in discharge, they will notice unusual side – effects and responses. There are Mums that have to administer medication throughout the night, check blood sugars, administer chemo, monitor pain and administer morphine when necessary.
I don’t know how other mums, but for me, to describe it as an emotional rollercoaster does not come close to the feelings and emotions I have felt. I have sobbed because my child is suffering, I have cried because I was scared, I have wept because of the uncertainty. I have somtimes been solemn because of the carefree life we have lost but hopeful for future. Despite this I still relish the good in life and the little things that make me smile. These things are still there and I notice them far easier because I want to, because I need to. I am fuelled by the love and compassion from others and the love for my children. This is where the strength comes from; love and compassion.
The mums I have met are from all walks of life. They are your friends, your daughters, your sisters, your aunties, your cousins. Being an Oncology Mum requires no application or interview, qualifications are irrelevant. Once you are appointed, you are in, forever. I feel honoured to have met the most wonderful of women on this adventure. Women who have an abundance of passion, drive and resilience and more often than not, a wicked sense of humour. You are amazing, end of.