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brothers and sisters

Peyton = no change.

That's good stuff!

I, however, reinforced the universal catch-22 that no matter how hard you work to clean out a room it always seems to get a LOT worse before it gets any better. I took trash bag after trash bag of yard sale stuff AND trash out of the girl's room…and each time I came back it was as if stuff-fairies had dashed in during my absence to throw more things around. In fact, I have the suspicion that some things were crawling out of bags and creeping back into the room when I wasn't looking. I would tell you that the room is pretty much put back together, neatly and organized…but I'm afraid that when I walk back in there it'll be all back like it was this morning when I started…like some freaky Martha Steward twilight zone episode.

Tonight at the Children's Cancer Center family support group we talked about siblings. The fact is that cancer can hit a family hard, but sometimes you don't feel the effects until things have calmed down a bit. I so appreciate the time that we get to talk to the other families, to bounce what's going on in our lives off of them and see what's happening for everyone else. I know for us, Nathaniel and Rachael have done tremendously during the most stressful times of Peyton's treatment, they've been diligent at school…they've learned to be more helpful at home…they've adjusted to the multitudes of changes that have had to happen in our home life due to Peyton's sickness….and we've felt like they've done the best they possibly could under the circumstances. They're 6 and 9!

But they've also suffered through having Mom and Peyton up and leave for days at a time with no warning…they've had to tiptoe through the house because "Peyton's sleeping" or "Peyton doesn't feel good" or "we just need to leave Peyton alone right now"….they've watched her get the bulk of the attention from people asking how she's doing, from us coping with side effects of one medication or another, even from this website. They've missed out on parties because I couldn't take them when Peyton's counts were low…they've dealt with me being gone for class events and field trips because they coincide with clinic trips…they've missed out on things just because at the end of the day I was too pooped to take them.

I see the effects in Rachael….she's always been a clown, but these days she's just crazy for attention, any attention…especially if she sees someone who's spending time with Peyton…she wants to jump in and be the center of the attention. We have to have these talks about WHY Peyton gets to do certain things…why we give her certain allowances like sleeping in our bed or staying up later or watching tv in bed…why she comes home with new presents all the times from the clinic or in the mail. It has helped in some ways that I've taken the kids with me to the clinic and Rachael's seen some of the less invasive procedures…the finger pokes, the port access, the leg sticks…and she got to come down and see the radiation process as well…and that's made the reality of what Peyton goes through MORE real for her. But one thing they talked about at the support group tonight is that siblings begin to wish that they were the sick child so that they could have the attention and get all the prizes, deciding that maybe it's worth it.

For Nathaniel, it's the opposite….he's willing to be totally self-sufficient…he's always been quieter, more easily occupied…all he needs is a video game and he'll disappear for hours. That's been so easy for the past months…when I'm tired and worn out and he's bored….why not just let him go play and he's fine. But it's become his complete obsession and he'd rather be playing a video game than anything else. It got to the point that he tried to trick Pete and I by hiding his Gameboy in his camp gear when he knew that A) he was grounded from video games and B) he wasn't allowed to take it to camp…it got ugly. He's now video game free until roughly 2008….I'm hoping that I'll be able to teach him the wonders of reading and arts and crafts.

During the sibling talk at group, several issues were brought up that often need to be dealt with:

–a sibling gets angry at the sick child for taking so much of the parents' time and attention
–a sibling wants to get sick or pretends to be sick to try to bring some the focus on themself
–a sibling is fearful of getting sick or other family members getting sick, like mom or dad
–a sibling will get attention, good or bad, any attention is good attention
–siblings start to struggle at school, have issues at home, conflict with friends

The Children's Cancer Center is leaning towards starting a thing called SibShops, which is a group to focus singularly on the needs of the siblings….teaching them ways to communicate how they're feeling about what's happening with their lives and how to voice their frustrations or fear. I'm so hoping that it comes to be, that this will be another support tool for our kids…another way to reach Nathaniel and Rachael and help them cope with all the changes they've had to deal with. I know that our kids are not the only ones going through these personality and attitude issues and it could be such a positive thing for them all.

It just feels like we've worked so hard to get through all this chemo and treatment and now we have to deal with the side effects on the rest of the family. We'll have the time to spend with them, be able to plan for some fun stuff and concentrate on being a family again…..I'm praying.

This is one of those many, many moments when I'm so glad that I can just give it up to God and ask Him to lead us in the right direction…I trust Him to grow us through this and build us all into stronger people.

So, tomorrow is homecoming for Nathaniel and Rachael. I hope that they have had a wonderful time during camp, enjoyed their time with their friends and the fun of experiences like canoeing and sleeping in the cabins. I can't wait to see them, hug them and hear all their fun stories! I have missed them so much and our house is so terribly empty without their noise and voices…even Peyton has started missing them, tonight at the CCC she talked about them all night to Miss Sarah and made them a special "welcome home" picture….this is a big gesture!!

Thessalonians 5:16-18 Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

I want to share that I am JOYFUL that my very disruptive neighbors have now been quiet for two nights in a row….yeah!!!!

f.r.o.G…fully relying on God

2 Comments on “brothers and sisters”

  1. #1 Julie
    on Jun 22nd, 2007 at 8:08 am

    Dear Anissa,

    It's so true about the effects that cancer has on every member of the family (even if we don't see those effects right away). Every night before a chemo treatment I read Joshua a book by the organization Candlelighters called Amazing Hannah. It's a great book because the little girl Hannah goes through very similar things that Joshua does while he's at the chemo clinic. Joshua really enjoys when I read him the book and Emma usually will want to sit and have the book read to her as well. Two nights ago when I read the book to both of them Emma said: "I wish I could have chemo." I was quite shocked and surprised by her statement, but realized that she is looking for attention. Talk about a red flag waved very high and loudly!!!

    I hope that Nathaniel and Rachel's homecoming is very special for your family. May you have many wonderful stories to share with each other and have some down time as a family.

    I also hope your huge yard sale goes wonderfully well. May the Lord lavish on you huge financial resources from the big day.

    Your family has been such an encouragement and inspiration to me. Thanks.

    In Him,


  2. #2 Basi
    on Jun 22nd, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    I hear you. Anytime we get together with other parents at our Gilda's Club, it always comes up: Sibbling Issues. It's tough. I'm really enjoying my older daughter now, because of summer vacation. She had very little interest in school this year, which was very hard for me and I know it's b/c of all the stuff we were dealing with, chemo, scans, a trip to Iowa, even surgery.

    It's tough. but we must believe that in the end, it will strengthen them and our families.
    love, basi