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My Baby Has Cancer. No, I'm Not OK.

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Nine months we anxiously awaited the birth of our only boy. Having two girls previously, I was extremely nervous but over the moon excited about becoming a “boy mom.” I felt like our family was complete. Fast toward to December 2016, three weeks after giving birth to my son, I heard what no mom should ever have to hear.

Your baby has cancer.

Over and over again I try to process this, but no part of my body would allow me to. After spending more than 24 hours in the pediatric emergency department, the last visits were from the oncologist, delivering the news that my 3-week-old son has high risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia. They delivered these words, left the room to give my husband and me time to process this, and returned to ask three words.

“Are you OK?”

Of course back then I didn’t know how much I would grow to despise being asked if I’m OK. But at almost five months into this living nightmare, I can wholeheartedly say I hate being asked if I am OK.

baby in bassinet next to crib in hospital

Why would I be OK? Why would someone to ask a postpartum mom with a baby fighting cancer is she OK? Maybe people don’t know this. And this can be true not just for postpartum moms, but any mom with a critically ill child.

I want to tell you why I’m not OK and why I don’t want to be asked that.

My child is fighting for life. Many do not really understand the seriousness of childhood cancer. This world is minute to minute.

At some point today, my infant cried out in the most excruciating of cries and I have no idea why.

Daily I make decisions regarding injecting poison into my child so my child can live.

I’m more than likely in some type of pain from sleeping in the most uncomfortable hospital chair.

I miss my husband, my other children — I’m torn between my family.

Cancer in children always poses the risk of late-term side effects. How will my son be at 6?

These are just a few reasons why I don’t want to be asked if I’m OK.

I’m not.

Instead, ask a parent of a child who has cancer, “What can I do to brighten your day?” Pay it forward.

Mother holding her baby, giving her baby a bottle in a hospital room

The author's baby wearing a hat

Follow this journey on the Facebook page Courage for Colin.

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Originally published: June 21, 2017
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