Pediatric Cancer Through the Fathers Eyes
Last month we talked about the Pediatric Journey Through the Mother's Eyes. In honor of Father's Day coming up, the focus will be from a different perspective: the pediatric journey through the father's eyes.
In general fathers tend to have a different responsibility in regards to their family. Society views them not so much as a caregiver, but a provider to the family. This gives them a different sense of responsibility. As you will read below, this is one reason that many fathers feel obligated to continue working.
Continue reading to understand the pediatric cancer journey from a father's perspective.
I found out my son was sick from my wife over the phone. The words wouldn’t sink in, so she had to have the doctor explain it to me.
It was a shock … something I never thought I would hear a person say: “Your son has cancer.” My clearest memory from the first night at the hospital is sitting on the floor in the playroom on the sixth floor of Children’s Hospital & Medical Center with my other son, Anthony, while he played.
He sat on my lap and played with blocks like it was just another day. I sat there and cried as quietly as I could.
I’m not an emotional person—and definitely not one who cries—but this was different. This was my son.
The Battle For Control
I kept looking at my son thinking, “He doesn’t look that sick. There must be some mistake.”
I couldn’t analyze the problem and fix it. I wasn’t in charge; the cancer was.
It took me a long time to say the words, “My son has cancer.” It took even longer to say them without getting a little emotional inside.
I didn’t want to tell people. It hurt too much inside to say it. Each time I said it out loud, it was like admitting it was true. If I didn’t say it, it felt less real.
Opening Up To It
I went right back to work when Cooper got out of the hospital. It felt like I was living two different lives.
At home, the only thing we talked about was cancer. And his treatment. And his schedule.
At work, it was like everyone else’s life was just the same, almost like nothing had happened. For me, something major had happened. My life had been turned upside down.
Everyone wanted to support us and come talk to me about how things were going. I didn’t want to tell them the truth about how hard it was and how scared we were, so I gave the politically correct response: “We’re doing good. Cooper’s treatment is going well.”
But after a while, I was able to talk about it, and able to tell friends that it was hard for me.
Living Through The Hurt
I’ve learned something about myself. I don’t like to watch people hurt my child.
I know it sounds so obvious, but for me, that has been the part that is almost unbearable:
The port access
The digging in arms for IVs
The having to hold him down and tell him it will be all right
It makes me almost feel sick inside. A father is supposed to protect his child, not hold him and tell him the pain is what is going to make him better.
But that’s the truth. Every poke, every pain moves us one step closer to getting him healthy.
Now, when people ask, I tell them, “My son is going to beat cancer.”
In many cases, like this one, at least one of the parents must continue working to support their family financially. They continue their work lives as normal. When in fact, their lives are not normal at all. Their lives have changed completely.
Here at Braden Kramer Foundation, we want to help those families who are not able to take time off work to fully concentrate on supporting their child and receiving support themselves.
If you would like to allow pediatric cancer parents to have this ability, please donate to the Braden Kramer Foundation.