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It’s like AA, but we’re allowed to drink

Family support group night at the Children’s Cancer Center.*

Sounds fun, huh?

Sort of has that “Let’s go shove glass shards under our nails and then kick puppies” kind of good time feel to it.

And I wouldn’t lie and say it isn’t a difficult place to be. Fact of the matter is, we are parents dealing with children of many different cancer diagnosis’s, we know that our outcomes will vary and the potential is there that tomorrow we could be comforting any of the people sitting around the table…they could be comforting me.

With the loss of children over the past few months, there is a strange emptiness there for me. Friends I expect to walk in the door don’t anymore.  It’s sad and I miss them.  I still talk to them. We call, email, grab meals….but this was our place, our nights to be together and they are missed.

Unfortunately, with each family that has to go to the bereavement group or families that are out of treatment and are able to move on (that ROCKS, that’s not unfortunate) there are new faces, new children, new stories to tell.

The children play totally at ease, never a concern for the bald head, the walkers or wheelchairs, the pale, bruised faces that scream “I’m sick!”…things that so often bring unkind or glaringly obvious stares and whispers other places…or, sometimes worse, that look of abject pity. Parents can talk with the knowledge that they are surrounded by people who GET their struggles and pain, that they have come to a place where they don’t have to guard their words and fears. Siblings meet other kids who are relieved to be out of the shadow of sick brothers and sisters.

We sit around with coffee, eating snacks and talking about issues. And the issues vary, they are physical, emotional, social, financial….they are about the doctors, the hospitals, the family, the relationships, the workplace…it is wrenching and painful, yet we are able to giggle and laugh and crack the most horribly inappropriate jokes. We cry together and we celebrate together.

I love this place.  This place that I would give anything to never have had to set foot in.  I wish it didn’t exist for the fact that children didn’t get cancer, but because they do I would get down on my knees and thank each person who makes its existence possible.

Thank you, CCC*

**Check out their site, click on the floaty cloud link that says “Siblings” and check out my crew!

5 Comments on “It’s like AA, but we’re allowed to drink”

  1. #1 lisa
    on Jul 18th, 2008 at 11:50 am

    That’s amazing! You’re whole family is famous and how classic is that picture of Nathaniel, come high school he’s going to love that picture! I’m actually headed off to a camp for siblings of cancer patients tomorrow and its amazing to say that seven years after volunteering at this very camp (I also get to work with the onc patients as well as the whole family at the family camps) that people still ask me why there is a camp for the siblings, they aren’t sick. Obviously for the actual families going through it its very apparent why it’s so important for these kids to get support, in fact I am reminded of your letter to Nathaniel and Rachel and its truly a perfect example of why we have our SIBS (special important brothers and sisters) camp. You and Pete are truly amazing parents, I am glad that you have the CCC for all the extra things you need. It sounds like an amazing place.

    lisas last blog post..Okizu here I come!

  2. #2 Holly
    on Jul 18th, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    I don’t really know what to say, but I’m glad there are support groups like that. The picture you give of the children playing together is sweet and sad at the same time.

    Hollys last blog post..Rule number one: Confuse your predator

  3. #3 Kelsey
    on Jul 19th, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    It is so nice you have a place to just be! God bless!

    Kelseys last blog post..::Feeding Peanuts to Bomb Sniffing Dogs and Other Stuff::

  4. #4 GoteeMan
    on Jul 20th, 2008 at 1:01 am

    We used to attend a Resolve Through Sharing group that was kinda similar, except it was a grieving and informational support group for those who lost babies due to miscarriage. We started attending after our 3rd one…

    We stopped seeing some friends over time as they became pregnant, had children, etc. Finally, we had children and stopped attending as well… Sometimes, it was really hard to be there, and when one of us went through another loss (especially the full-term stillbirths), it was excruciating…

    Overall, it was good for us… and at times, it really helped, but sometimes, it was just rough. Such is it with getting together with groups of people all going through situations involving risks, I guess… you get to rejoice together when outcomes are good, and you share in each others’ suffering when the outcomes are painful…

    We still occasionally run into some of those folks at sports events and school activities, and there is a real connection… through the sharing and supporting of each other, it helped with the healing process…

    those who suffer together and rejoice together often form bonds that help us get through the times when the pain is most fresh, and to know that someone else understands the worries, fears, hopes, hurts…. and can appreciate the miracle of hopes being fulfilled.


    GoteeMans last blog post..Is "W" is for "wind"?

  5. #5 M
    on Jul 20th, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    I am so happy you have a support group….there wasn’t one within miles of here when my daughter was dx….and I really needed it. The divorce stats are so true….we are hanging in there 6 years out but too many of our friends in the cancer world did not make it. I think they need to give a book on that at dx along with the childhood cancer book we were handed.

    Ms last blog post..Dick of the Day Award