While I can take sick leave from my part time job during my chemo week, there's never 'sick leave' from my full time job as mother of 3 (12, 7 and 4).
Having a nap on the couch is near impossible as I have to keep my ear out for any potential trouble, and I'm frequently interrupted by demands.
My kids don't really understand that coughing or sneezing on me could send me to hospital, no matter how many times I try to explain white blood cells and germs.
I'm absolutely exhausted, physically and emotionally, but life goes on. School and kinder runs, athletics, food shopping, housework, more housework, going to the park, homework help, cooking, bath time, bedtime battles etc etc etc. I force myself to continue to be the same mum I used to be, while trying to explain that I am sick and tired (hoping that they will have some understanding that I need a break, to no avail).
A hug and kiss, letters and pictures, and being told "I love you, you're the best mum" make it all worthwhile, but on the whole parenting is a job with far more give than take. It doesn't help that I work in a caring profession, it's hard to give and care constantly when my emotional tank feels like it's on empty.
I feel like the last 5 months since diagnosis has aged me 10 years, I feel isolated as this is not a normal life event to struggle with as a 34 year old mum. Yes, there are people out there going through similar (please feel free to reach out if you can relate), but most of the cancer patients I have crossed paths with are older and have adult children. My own mum has also had Lymphoma, which does help in terms of having someone close who understands, but she was 56 at diagnosis and only had my dad to demand attention from her.
At first I had to worry about the effect of my diagnosis and illness on my kids and husband. The kids all showed their own symptoms of anxiety at times. This has been tough, as not only do I have my own emotional burden to bear, but also the instincts of the concerned and caring mother as well. Over time it appears that my illness is 'old news' and life has resembled some sense of normailty for them (even if I am suffering more side effects with each cycle of chemo).
Just once I'd like to have someone look after me. For me to be able to actually rest and heal. To be honest I'd like a holiday, without kids, on a tropical beach... For now I'll have to settle for the occasional massage instead. Sigh.
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.