Kaylee Olson

@kaylee-olson | contributor
First, I was a mommy battling anxiety and severe depression. Now I'm a mommy to a two year old leukemia fighter as well.
Community Voices

Dear new cancer mom

Dear Future #Cancer Mom,

This is going to be hard. This is going to be the hardest

thing you have ever had to deal with. You are going to hear the words: your

child has cancer. Your child is sick. There is nothing you can do about it.

There is nothing you could have done differently. And there is nothing that is

going to change their diagnosis.

You are going to freeze. Your heart is going to stop. Your

lungs aren’t going to be able to exhale. You won’t be able to direct your eyes

around the room. You are not going to be able to think. You are going to cry

and scream and sit in silence, all within minutes of each other. You probably

aren’t going to know what to do next. If you’re like me, you’ll have your child

in your arms. You are going to pray that you arms don’t give out.

You are going to be extremely thankful that at that very

moment in time….. your child is alive.

You are soon going to learn a new meaning of trust. You are soon

going to learn to a new meaning of hope, strength, fear, and faith… All in ways

you would have never had to imagine. All in ways that wouldn’t have made sense before.

All in ways that others will never understand.

You will have to trust your child’s life with strangers. You

are passing your innocent child into the arms of different men and women. These

men and women are doing everything in their own power to save your child’s

life. You are going to learn to trust doctors, nurses, and paramedics. You are

going to learn that no question is a dumb question when it comes to your child’s

life.

You soon will be taught what a port or a central line are

and how they work. You will learn your child’s blood type. You’ll learn every

type of chemo and steroid your child will be on. You’ll learn that strangers

really do become family. Nurses and doctors will become great friends to you. I

hope you’re not scared of urine, vomit, or diarrhea. Because you are about to

witness an endless amount of each in the next few years.

You are going to wish you could trade places with them a

million times a day. You are also going to learn how to stand up for yourself,

and most importantly for your child. You are your child’s biggest advocate. You

know your child better than any doctor or nurse that you will come in contact

with. (But don’t worry, you are also going to meet some pretty amazing nurses

who will become second best. They will also know your child, and so many

others, like the back of their hands, and they… they will also advocate with

you.) You are going to have to learn how to say “no” and “that’s enough” when

your child is pushed too far. You are probably going to yell a few different times.

But don’t worry, most understand, and they won’t take it personally.

You also will learn some pretty scary things. You will learn

how to hold your child just right in your arms as they’re injecting them with “sleepy”

medicine, so you can pass them over to an anesthesiologist so their doctor can

perform one of many different procedures they’ll receive over the next few

years. You’re going to have to figure out a routine on how to restrain your

screaming and squirming child so the nurse can access their port. You’ll also

learn how to count heart beats per minutes and even breaths per minutes. You

might see your child stop breathing, they will probably turn grey. You’ll never

be happier as when you finally hear them gasp for air or when the nurses turns

the oxygen up and you see their chest go up and down again. You might have to spend

a few nights in the PICU, but don’t worry, after a few hours in there, you will

soon realize that things could always be worse, much worse at most times. You

might have to ride in the back of ambulance a few times, holding you child’s hand,

telling them It’ll be okay. Even though inside you are absolutely terrified. And

that ride will be the longest ride of your entire life. You’ll also see your

first little bald head roaming the hallway. It will probably take your breath

away. You almost might feel like you want to vomit right then and there.

Because that, that will be your realization that it will soon be your child’s

bald head walking up and down the hall. That will remind you that your child

indeed does have cancer.

Then there is death. You will go through your first

#ChildhoodCancer death. You will be terrified. You will be scared. You will be

sad. Actually, you will be absolutely heartbroken. You will feel a huge amount

of guilt. Why is that poor mother sitting in the chair losing her child? You

will feel severe #Anxiety. What If someday that is you sitting in the chair,

sobbing hysterically at the fact that your child indeed won’t make it through

the night. It doesn’t get easier. It never will. It will actually become tragically

harder as you sit next to one of your best friend’s as her child takes his last

breath. That, that will hit you unilike any other.

You will research and research until there’s nothing left to

read. You will become an absolute professional on your child’s cancer. You will

know every pre-med, injection, chemo, and steroid name by heart. You will be

thankful when your child finally poops, after being in agony for days. You will

be bombarded with love and even with hate. You will hear that you should try

this and that. Ignore it.

You will pray. You will pray like hell for every child you

meet. You will go through hard times and you will witness your friend’s

children go through even harder times. You will be there for them, because no

matter how hard it is for you to watch, you know it’s even harder for them to

endure.

Lastly, you will hope and you will have faith. You will hope

with everything you have that you will never have to hear the words: there’s

nothing more we can do for your child. You will have faith that your child will

be this. You will have faith that your child is stronger than cancer.

Community Voices

Being a cancer mom

What is it like being a #Cancer mom you ask?

First, it’s just that. Hearing the 4 words you never thought that you’d ever hear: “your child has cancer.”

3 seconds before I heard that phrase, I wasn’t a cancer mom either…..

Being a cancer mom is rushing by ambulance to childrens hospital to be told your child has cancer.

Being a cancer mom is holding him in your arms for the last time for a week. A week. A week of your baby being too sick and hooked up to too many machines to get out of bed.

Being a cancer mom is not knowing that night, and come to find out many others, if your child will make it through the night.

Being a cancer mom is not leaving your childs hospital room ONE SINGLE TIME in seven and a half days.

Being a cancer mom is crying in the arms of nurses, doctors, and social workers you dont even know (but soon become your new family.)

Being a cancer mom is lying next to your weak, lifeless child and watching them hook him up to IV after IV, oxygen masks, and so much more because he spiked a fever to 105 and cant breathe on his own.

Being a cancer mom is signing consent forms for them to administer chemo, poison, into your childs body, give spinal traps, and bone marrow biopsies.

Being a cancer mom is holding your child down hundreds of times so a nurse can stab a needle into the port inside their chest.

Being a cancer mom is packing your bags and rushing to the hospital at a fever of 101.5

Being a cancer mom is spending nights in the PICU, wondering how this could possibly be your life.

Being a cancer mom is choosing a toy at the gift shop to hopefully put a smile on your kiddos face, over dinner for yourself.

Being a cancer mom is living off of hospital coffee and expensive takeout, or not eating at all.

Being a cancer mom is having the cook staff and custodial staff even feel sorry for you.

Being a cancer mom is FIGHTING for your child, because you just know your mommy gut instinct is right.

Being a cancer mom is meeting with an anesthesiologist for the 24th time, so they can sedate your child for a spinal tap and administer chemo into his spinal fluid.

Being a cancer mom is watching your own cancer mom friends lose their own innocent babies.

Being a cancer mom is cleaning up throw up from your bed for the 7th night in a row.

Being a cancer mom is having to pull over to the side of the road to get your child to stop choking on their own vomit. Again.

Being a cancer mom is spending holidays in a 12×12 room, because chemo cant wait and fevers dont care.

Being a cancer mom is losing your friends and family, who “cant handle it.”

Being a cancer mom is walking into the ER for the 8th time in a month.

Being a cancer mom is holding your childs hand while 3 nurses shoot him up with his 27th leg injection.

Being a cancer mom is watching your child infiltrate his IV, and need to be injected with 5 shots in his chest. Again.

Being a cancer mom is making decisions that could kill your child, but having no other choice, because there is NO OTHER OPTIONS….

Being a cancer mom is having to choose option a, which could kill your child from ammonia toxicity or option b, have your childs relapse rate quadruple.

Being a cancer mom is trying to decide if you can give a little tyleonal, or have to move up to tramadol or oxy for the uncontrollable pain your childs in…..well guess what, neither worked, so you’re admitted so your child can be on a morphine pain pump.

Being a cancer mom is changing diapers every two hours, even though the middle of the night into morning, because the chemo is too toxic to sit on their skin.

Being a cancer mom is brushing your childs teeth only for their gums to drip with blood.

Being a cancer mom is watching your child relearn how to walk, how to use utensils.

Being a cancer mom is watching your child laugh for the first time in a month. A MONTH!

Being a cancer mom is crying yourself to sleep for the 20th night in a row, in a cold dark hospital room.

Being a cancer mom is not being able to sleep, because the little girl in the room next door cant stop screaming from all the pain she is in.

Being a cancer mom is watching other innocent children decline.

Being a cancer mom is watching your child (hopefully not permanently) lose feeling in their hands and feet.

Being a cancer mom is pulling clumps of hair out of your childs head and off of their clothing and pillow.

Being a cancer mom is not stepping foot outside of the hospital for 16 days straight.

Being a cancer mom is taking your child to see Santa in the hospital toy room, not the mall.

Being a cancer mom is watching your child have an anaphylactic reaction to a chemo that’s supposed to be saving their life.

Being a cancer mom is giving your child medicine. Every single day, teo-three-four times a day, for 3.5 years.

Being a cancer mom is screaming at your child to take a breathe while they are being held down with a nitrous mask on for more shots.

Being a cancer mom is watching your sons doctor scream at the nurse to up his oxygen because hes now not breathing.

Being a cancer mom is sitting in the ER weeks later, holding your child as he stops breathing again.

Being a cancer mom is being woke up in the middle of the night from gun shots because your hospital is downtown.

Being a cancer mom is missing parties, dinner, movies, because a fever spiked.

Being a cancer mom is begging your doctor to listen to you, to run that test just one more time.

Being a cancer mom is holding your childs hand while they’re unable to walk on their own.

Being a cancer mom is explaining why you cant go to target or the park like you “used too.”

Being a cancer mom is making the dreaded phone call to your friends family that her son had passed away.

Being a cancer mom is being excited that your child has finally pooped for the first time in weeks.

Being a cancer mom is holding your child down for ECHOs, x-rays, and ultrasounds.

Being a cancer mom is being scared that a little sniffle could turn into a cold, and kill your child.

Being a cancer mom is being terrified of the chicken pox and the measles, because they are not JUST A RASH AND A FEVER for your child.

Being a cancer mom is spending your day between two different hospitals. Hundreds of miles from each other.

Being a cancer mom is going to physical therapy, occupational therapy, blood draw/labs, and chemo appointments. All on separate days. All in separate places.

Being a cancer mom is never looking at another bruise on your child as “normal” again.

Being a cancer mom is having play dates in the hospital toy room or family lounge, rather than at your home.

Being a cancer mom is having 4 relapse scares in less than a year.

Being a cancer mom is holding your child down as they get thir legs and feet casted for braces.

Being a cancer mom is your child having to have a tube shoved down his nose for the 5th time.

Being a cancer mom is not just cute little bald heads.

Being a cancer mom is HARD.

Being a cancer mom is something I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.

BUT, this is our life and we have no other choice.

Kaylee Olson

This Is the Reality of What Cancer Families Go Through

One bond that can truly not be broken: cancer families. Our neighbors on the oncology floor become our family. You see these people every day. All day long. You soon get to know a lot about them in a short period of time. You can tell by a look on one of their faces how their day is going. Maybe they just got the news they’d been dreading since they arrived. Or the news they have been longing for months. As a long-term stay family on the floor, you become vulnerable. Sometimes you have to open up to strangers. Sometimes you have to be selfless. You set your struggles aside to be a shoulder for them to cry on or a hug to share their excitement with. Sometimes it’s comforting to open up to these strangers, because these are people who really understand. They actually know what you’re going through. And they can say, “I get it” and they mean it. Sometimes they have advice for you — maybe a tip or trick you haven’t thought of. As a parent to a medically fragile child, you are their biggest advocate. But sometimes you’re tired, sometimes you’re weak. But you will always have these families to help pick you up when you’re down and help remind you what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Connections on the floor can happen fast. These people become the people you see every single day, all day long. It doesn’t matter where they are from or how far apart you live. Other cancer families become the people that are there for you most. We have had our new friends come up to seventh floor to bring us treats and coffee while they’re downstairs for an appointment. We have had people go out of their way to come and visit us, even when they aren’t in the neighborhood. We have had people on the floor bring us home cooked meals, even though they are also struggling. After a cancer, or any chronic medical diagnosis, they say that you find out who your friends and your family there. As clich é as it sounds, this couldn’t be more true. Our cancer families have been there for many of us, more than most of our actual family and friends. They check in with us regularly, come and visit whenever they can, and actually ask how we are doing. They aren’t afraid to come see my child hooked up to machines. They put aside their own plans or issues to come drop off a toy for my child, just to make him feel a little bit better. It’s odd that the people we thought would be there for us the most are not. They are the ones that never come and see us, they never call or text us and ask how we are doing/if there is anything that we may need. These things make it easy to filter these people out of our life and get rid of these people that we don’t need. Fortunately, along with a diagnosis, comes others out of the woodwork. People who you thought didn’t know you even existed are reaching out to you. Or maybe acquaintances or old friends that turn to you and support you. It’s sad when you can count on one hand how many times some of your own family members have seen your sick child since he was diagnosed with cancer. Most days I really don’t care and it just doesn’t bother me. But some days it does. Because I start to think it’s not fair to my sweet boy. Then, like a smack in the face I realize, we shouldn’t care. These people are missing out. Not us, not my baby. If you’re too busy for us and only acknowledge us when it’s convenient for you, we won’t be here waiting. My child deserves more than that. He has family and friends who do put him first, who realize he’s the only thing that truly matters. We don’t have time for petty bullshit. Because that’s what it is. It’s bullshit. And now I will do everything in my power to keep him away from you. If you can’t be here for the hardest times of our lives, you will not be in our lives at all. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo by PobladuraFCG

Kaylee Olson

What It Was Like to Get My Son's High-Risk Leukemia Cancer Diagnosis

It’s been over a month. One long, grueling month since my world was completely flipped upside down One month since I was told the four words that broke my heart: “Your son has cancer.” Cancer. Leukemia. High risk. That was all I heard. I looked around the emergency room cubicle we were placed at our children’s hospital, the one we were just rushed into by ambulance. There sat the oncologist, the man who broke the news with saddened eyes. There sat my ex-fiancé, gripping our son as tears fell down his face. There sat my parents and their spouses with fear in their eyes. And then, there sat my son. My sweet, sick 2-year-old son. There were all these people in the room, yet there I sat. Alone. Completely alone. Thousands of thoughts swarmed my head. What were we going to do next? What did this mean? Will he be OK? My son could die. That was all I could think of after that. It was all a blur as we were brought up to the seventh floor oncology unit, and it still didn’t hit me. I still didn’t believe my son had cancer. There we sat on the bed as his dad asked our nurses one more time, “Are you sure, are you sure our son has cancer?” She didn’t know what to say. “Didn’t they explain this to you in the ER?” But we couldn’t listen. We couldn’t bear the thought of losing our sweet boy. We cried. We cried all night long. All day the next day and the day after that. We had to tell our family and close friends the diagnosis. We had to listen to them weep, like it were their lives changing. Never would I have thought walking into that emergency room I would be spending the next month of my life lying next to my son, who was unable to move. Limp, tired and scared, with needles, IVs and meds coming in every directions. As bags and bags of blood hung from hooks to save his life. Never, ever did I think cancer would happen to us. To our family. To my son. But here we are. I am a cancer mom. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo by XiXinXing

Kaylee Olson

Why My Heart Broke When a Mom in Target Apologized to Me

To the mom who apologized to me for her son’s behavior at Target: Don’t. Don’t ever apologize to anyone about your kids, especially when your kids are happy and healthy. Especially when it’s because they are running around and enjoying life, laughing and playing together. Don’t worry about who they are bothering. Who cares? They are kids. They are healthy. They are happy. They are enjoying their life, just like any typical 2-year-old should. Not long ago, only a few short months back, that was me. I was apologizing for my rambunctious and energetic 2-year-old boy. He would be laughing, running, and screeching entirely too loud while running up and down the aisles, playing peek-a-boo. That was us. We were you. For the first time since my son’s diagnosis with leukemia, I wanted to scream at this woman. I wanted to grab her and shake her profusely. I wanted to tell her that I wish that was me. I wish that was my biggest problem in life — my son’s laugh and who it might bother in public. I wanted to tell her that I wish I could see my baby run up and down the toy aisle at Target. That I was there to pick out something special to celebrate our day 29 of treatment. I wanted to tell her it was OK. Hell, I wish I could even bring my baby to Target, but with his compromised immune system, that could land him in the ICU, or even worse, that could kill him. I wish I could hear my son laughing in a store. I wish I could apologize because he pulled toys off the shelf. After watching my baby lay in a hospital bed for literally a month straight, there’s a whole lot of truth to the saying, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” I can’t wait for the day my sweet boy can enjoy his normal life. When he can enjoy going to the Target toy aisle. I will never take a simple Target trip with him for granted ever again. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo by Stock Planets