This week, Cassidy's Mom (whose name is also Shannon) posted a precious video and wrote an inspiring blog about finding Hope again. The words of wisdom in this video and the blog are mind-blowing, and worth a watch AND read by anyone seeing this.
So, grab a hot beverage (cocoa, tea, coffee) and enter the world of survivorship as told through the eyes of a 13 year old -- truly this world's future, which is the embodiment of Hope.
Much love everyone, Shannon, Wind River
Confession, November 3, 2021
I have a confession to make. A few, maybe.
As an eternal optimist, this first one is tough for me to admit...but here goes.
For the last few months, I have been afraid of Hope. I've wanted to feel it. I've wanted to be all bright and sunny and full of rainbows and crap. When people have asked me how we are, I've wanted to say, "Oh, we're doing great! We're hopeful and happy that she's on track for treatment. We're grateful she has made counts for EIGHTEEN STRAIGHT TREATMENTS (sort of unheard of in this world). So yeah...we're good! How are you?"
But as soon as I open my mouth, the only words that seemed to fall out were, "One foot in front of the other, you know?"
When Cassidy was born, I made myself a billion promises. I would be a better person. I'd be reliable, and trustworthy, and honest. I would be present and put my children before me.
I would be a better parent than my mother and father were.
Those of you who know me well, know that this was not a big ask. My parents were not exactly the best role models. My father was narcissistic and abusive. My mother was absent for most of my life. "Present" and "not abusive" seem like pretty low bars.
So then I decided to be all the things that I'd wanted my own parents to be. Warm, generous, unconditional...and honest.
So, when people ask how I am, I am now programmed to tell the truth.
And the truth is, life has hit us so many times over the past year, that Hope started to feel like a bad parent. It was unreliable. Untrustworthy.
So why keep giving it my attention? Why keep hoping, if things were just going to keep falling apart?
Now please understand this doesn't mean I was falling into a pit of depression. I definitely did not wallow in misery and self-pity (except for maybe a few times with my closest girlfriends...you know who you are, and I love you for wallowing with me in those moments). Most of the time, I set my mind to "just keep swimming," and then I did. I did laundry, and I washed dishes, and I took kids to school, and I helped with homework, and I hand-washed a billion friggin' masks. Sometimes, I even laughed or sang. Often, I wrote.
But I dared not Hope.
And then, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed Cassidy struggling. I picked her up from school on a Monday, and she burst into tears in the car. She'd had a test that day, and she said her mind just couldn't focus normally. She would start reading a question, and then suddenly it was like, WHOOSH! Everything was gone. We know chemo would do this, but the brain fog still hit her harder than almost anything else had to date. Then, when we got home, she couldn't take Sophie for a walk. She felt weak and fatigued, as her counts have continued to drop (and not rebound like they did before). Chemo is cumulative...so her side effects are too.
It was in this moment that I realized that as her body was weakening, her mind was also starting to succumb.
And that was not okay. She needed a lifeline, and I needed to be the one to throw it to her.
So I decided to give Hope another chance. I threw a lifeline, and I talked Cassidy through it all. I could not replenish her energy, but I could help more with homework. I could not improve her memory, but I could point to her grades (the lowest of which is still like 97%), and help her see what I see. A child who is stronger than any child should have to be. A fierce, brilliant, compassionate warrior. A giver, even in the face of her own hurricane.
Day after day, I've spoken words that at first, I did not feel...I was too scared to believe. But now that I've said them over and over, I'm starting to believe.
I have Hope.
Hope that my child will be okay. Hope that my daughter will live a long life. Hope that my baby will change the world, which I am CERTAIN she can do.
Because she already is.
We have three more chemos. THREE MORE. She has beaten this battle eighteen (18!!!!) times already, and she will do it three more times. Then, once she has reached that mountain peak, she will ring that glorious bell one day before we wave this year goodbye.
We can do this. We WILL do this. Tonight, I feel grateful, and optimistic, and stronger than I have in many, many weeks.
Welcome back, Hope. I've missed you. 💛🎗💛