Me & my daughter
Verityslifestyle isn’t just about food and drinks, I have a real life too! Over the next few months there are going to be a mixture of posts, recipes and food information but also more information about having and dealing with cancer, particularly Stage IV. I hope you like the additions at Verityslifestyle. If there is anything else you’d like to see go to www.facebook.com/Veritylifestyle and leave a comment or tweet me @Verityslife.
Todays post is a very personal one….
My daughter was just about to turn one when my Stage IV breast cancer was diagnosed. When we found out it had also collapsed two of my vertebrae David and I realised that I had had my cancer at least one year before when I was still pregnant with India.
I had had a “bad back” according to doctors whilst I was pregnant, when our baby was born I was unable to pick up this tiny girl and my Dad came to the rescue, helping me everyday David was at work. He helped carry her to be changed, carried her to me to feed her and walked her for miles in her pram. I struggled to breast feed India especially my left breast – guess what? this was the one with the cancer in!
From day one with our daughter things were different from most families, as usual I don’t conform to the norm.
Once I was diagnosed with cancer I was in hospital having a mastectomy then fairly soon afterwards chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a vertebraplasty (bone cement in my spine) so I was in hospital or in bed a lot rather than being what I thought a Mum should be.
Over the past 4 ½ years I have felt a lot of guilt that I couldn’t fulfil what I perceived to be the role of a Mum.
Just to reign my Mummy role in even more at the beginning of 2013 I was diagnosed with Brain metastases which meant I couldn’t drive. That knocked me for six, I couldn’t have that special time just India and I, listening to music, chatting, listening to her French CD. Or just being quiet. We are quite a noisy family so that quiet drive with India was extremely precious. It was lost. I was lost.
There have been times when I could tailor what I did with India, she loves books so that’s an easy one to do with her. I had this vision of doing crafts, painting and cooking with her, just like my amazing Mum did with me. I feel I have sort of half fulfilled this but usually my back stops play or being in hospital does.
Up until last September when I was admitted to hospital once again we were doing some baking together which I really enjoy but not really much else.
I came home from hospital just before Christmas very weak physically so felt even more guilt that I couldn’t do the things that David, Mum and Dad were doing with her.
About a week ago Mum and I had a “discussion” (we have a lot of “discussions” in our family, its the way we work, good or bad) about me not being involved with India. I was almost pushing India away, she has a great Dad, her Nanna and Pa live just 15 minutes away and are all exceptional with her. I was pleased but sad and jealous at times, if I didn’t survive (which I nearly didn’t in the Summer – another story) I wanted her to be more reliant on the rest of the family, not me. Yes I know that is ridiculous but as Justine says below you feel like a failure that you may not be around to see your child grow up.
On reflection afterwards I did realise that all I was doing with India was raising my voice, I thought I couldn’t get close because I wasn’t physically able. It was a really big turning point and since then I have given a lot of thought to what I can do with her and my general attitude toward being a Mum.
I didn’t really have to do anything for things between India and I to change, I think it was just my attitude. We are much more cuddly, we talk without me getting annoyed and we “play” in whatever way I can, if I can’t manage it I explain that to her.
I have finally realised that our relationship is what I make it and it can be as close, exciting, rewarding and loving as I thought it could be just with a few adjustments and realising once again that I don’t conform to the norm and neither should you.
My good friend Justine on having cancer and a small child:
“My main feeling was one of guilt. All the attention should have been on my lovely daughter, who was just 15-months-old when I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, but instead I became the focus of concern. I was very sick with chemotherapy, then surgery and radiotherapy, and trying to fit being a good mum in between all of those stresses was so difficult. There were times when I was confined to bed, vomiting and semi-delirious, with no energy for my small child. So much guilt – how can a mother be like that?! In the end we had to send her to nursery during the day, so that I could get some rest, while she received the attention and stimulation she deserved. Of course, the other great concern was that I would not live to support my child growing up. There can be few worse feelings of failure than that.
There was one silver lining, however. Her dad took an increasing role in looking after her during her early and toddler years. Now, aged 14, my daughter and her father are inseparable – there’s is such a strong bond. I don’t know if that would have happened if they hadn’t been forced together during those difficult times.”
Please let me and Justine know what you have felt emotionally having cancer and small children in the comments below. Your experiences can help other people.
Coming soon on Verityslifestyle: “How we talk to our daughter about me being ill.”
“Why I haven’t been posting recipes for a while”
“My essential kitchen equipment guide”
More healthy Anti-cancer Food, Juice and Smoothie recipes