The most dreaded day of the year for me.
The dread starts about November and goes all the way through December. I avoid my FB memories leading up to Christmas because Gabriel was sick, and we thought it was just a normal virus. Now looking back at the pictures I can fully see just how sick he actually was, and that just triggers my PTSD.
There’s not a handbook on how to handle your thoughts, emotions, and life after you hear your child has cancer. There’s not a one size fits all approach to healing and getting back to a “normal” life after treatment is over. One statistic I read said nearly 40% of mothers and 33% of fathers experience symptoms of PTSD after their child has cancer. So if you’re experiencing the same, please know you’re not alone.
So now, each Diagnosis Day, I pick a new thing to focus on. One new blessing that I can hold onto and re-direct my thoughts toward any time I feel trauma rear its ugly head.
Dec 2020: I focused on thankfulness. We were so thankful to be finished with chemo and back at home full-time. Then came snapping out of survival mode (I lived in survival mode for three whole years) and trying to heal. And as a result, I was hit with anxiety and panic attacks. I was having them multiple times a week. I went on anxiety meds and started learning how to cope and recognize my triggers.
Dec 2021: I focused on rest and healing. I didn’t even make a post about Diagnosis Day on FB. I still have a long way to go. When you start to heal from trauma sometimes your brain reveals other stuff you’ve repressed/blocked out and this happened to me. This is still an ongoing progress.
Now for this Diagnosis Day, I’m choosing to focus on joy.
These are two of my favorite pictures of Gabriel at Christmas this year. This boy can light up a room like no one else. I look at what all he has endured and for him to have so much love, and so much joy, it’s humbling. He loves to make people laugh and he has such a sensitive heart.
I’m taking a page out of Gabriel’s book and making memories and joy the main focus this year.