Here is where my first poetry collection begins…
My daughter, Gabrielle, has survived Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia – or ALL – twice. She was first diagnosed at 21 months and went through two years of chemo. She was 7 years old, and completely off therapy for three years, when she relapsed. Relapsing this far off therapy was unheard of. She underwent three years of therapy this time.
Gabrielle survived this second cancer attack and as we neared the three year anniversary of being off therapy, I was of course anxious. The date passed and we sighed in relief. But we didn’t escape after all. My mom was diagnosed at that time with lung cancer. My role was reversed. I became a daughter whose mother was battling cancer.
My daughter is now 29 and wonderful. She was in that group of children who were the first to receive protocols resulting in long-term survivors of childhood cancers. Mom fought for 6 months before succumbing.
Being a mom whose daughter had cancer, then a daughter whose mom had cancer offered a unique perspective. There were similarities in treatment and care-giving, but because of my relationship with each of them there were also differences.
Writing poetry is one way I make sense of what’s happening within and around me. As I wrote and shared poems about my daughter and mom in my critique groups, it became obvious the poems were more than just my family’s story. They were tiny windows into what life can be like for families going through childhood cancers or other chronic illnesses, what it can be like as a care-giver – whether for a child or a parent – the resilience of children and families, and how dignity, humor, grace and hope can be found even In the Garden of Life and Death.
I was encouraged to gather the poems into a collection, as they offered insights for those never having experienced those situations, and they could offer hope and healing to those who were.
Tomorrow I’ll post The Creation of a Poetry Collection Part 2: Opening the Windows. I invite you to return and take a peek!
Kim, Thank you so much for sharing your family’s journey with cancer. You are right–many of us can relate to your story and struggle. I’m praying for positive outcomes for those who fight the battle today.
Thank you, Martha. And there are so many who are battling this. And it’s not just cancer, I think some of the feelings, frustrations and joys I’ve written about apply to anyone dealing with any kind of chronic illness. It ain’t fun! 🙂 But faith, family and humor can get us through many things.
Kim,I just read part one , My stomach tied up in knots, & I could just cry for a year . I wasn’t there for you when Gabrielle was sick ,& I am so sorry for that. For some reason at the time my life was all turned upside down ,& it just didn’t hit me. At the time I didn’t understand the disease . I had heard about it ,but it didn’t sink in that it could have ment death ..I’m sure your book will be wonderful,& I can’t wait to read it. Love You Very Much !
Sue, I knew we were in your prayers. Please don’t feel bad. One of the poems is about being 500 miles from family and how we relied on those prayers. I love what you said about not understanding the disease. That’s one of the key reasons I finally agreed to put my poems ‘out there’ and it’s the focus of today’s blog post – opening some windows on what this is like. And that includes some of the many blessings and moments of grace during those times of challenge. Love you too!