Cancer Journey

Painting the town BLUE

Sometimes I wonder if love is worth fighting for, but then I remember your face and I’m ready for War!

Shortly after Aaron died, I had a conversation with my oldest child Parker, one of many that I won’t forget. He had just returned to school after staying home for several days and we were lying in bed. He asked me if I knew what it meant to be “blue”. I said yes, it means you are feeling sad. He told me that he was sitting in class and he started to cry. He looked around and felt embarrassed that he was crying while everyone else was working but relieved that nobody saw him. I told him it was OK to cry and that he had done a very hard thing going back to school. He agreed with me and said that it didn’t feel right to be there. He told me at one moment he felt like he couldn’t breathe. He asked me. “Is that why they call it being blue?” I tilted my head because I wasn’t sure what he meant. He then proceeded to tell me that sometimes when you can’t breathe your skin will turn blue. I was really surprised by his comment and told him that was an impressive connection. I had never thought of it that way. Before we lost Aaron, I wouldn’t have compared “being blue” to blue skin due to the lack of oxygen. In fact, the origin of the saying “feeling blue” comes from Greek Mythology. Often when Zeus was sad, he would make it rain, so we associate ‘being blue” to rain or tears, because when we color them, we usually always use blue. However, I agree with Parker. With extreme sadness comes a tight chest and a struggle to breathe. I told Parker that I feel like I can’t breathe sometimes too and that I feel blue now that Dad is gone. He responded, ” It’s never going to be the same Mom, and I think I will be forever blue.” I nodded my head in agreement but couldn’t find the right words to comfort him. Instead I took my hand and placed it on top of his head and gave him a small smile. He went on to tell me about his day and while I listened I put all my energy into holding back my tears. My sweet Parker would feel blue about his Dad for the rest of his life. I couldn’t keep all the tears back and every so often one would escape and roll down my cheek. He told me he loved me and rolled over and fell asleep. I laid awake for most of the night and stared at the ceiling. I thought about how sad I was that Aaron was gone. How I wouldn’t feel his embrace anymore, especially in this moment when I needed him the most. As parents, after the kids would go to sleep, we would talk about what we needed to do for our children and that night I couldn’t share with him the conversation I had with our grieving nine year-old son. I tried to think what he would say but as my thoughts began to build and my tears started to fall uncontrollably, I started struggling to breath. I gulped and choked. As I was fighting for my breath, I couldn’t help but think, “I wonder if my skin looks blue.”

The next morning Parker told me he would try not to be as sad at school that day. I gave him a hug and told him that it was OK to be sad, his Dad had just died and that was a really big deal. He told me he didn’t always want to be blue. I explained that as time goes on, he won’t be so blue that he can’t breathe. It might be it’s a rainy day kind of blue. I said if we are ever not blue about Dad that means we stopped loving him, and that won’t ever happen. He Furrowed his eyebrows and sharply declared, “OF COURSE NOT!”

For my Family being “Forever Blue” means a whole lot! It is a part of who we are. It means we are sad, hurt, grieving and sometimes even gasping for breath as we try to continue with our lives. It’s hard to look up around us and see everyone working, moving forward while we sit still, and time rolls on still feeling as blue as the day it happened. And quite regularly, it feels a lot like what happened to Parker in class, when no one noticed.

While Parker was at school that day, I thought a lot about what I could do to help him and what could help me. HECK ANYTHING that would give us reason to breathe. I walked out the side door of my house to try and get some air. I will often find myself aimlessly walking around the house and sometimes the sun will knock some sense into me. As I turned to walk back inside, I stopped and shifted all my attention to the blue Cancer ribbon hanging on the wall, with the words “Faith over Fear” printed on it. Ironically, blue is associated with Colon Cancer Awareness. Maybe I could take our sadness and give it a purpose. That would give us reason to breath.

March is Colon Cancer Awareness month and I’m trying to paint the town BLUE for the fight against cancer. Being “Forever Blue” may mean that I am very sad and sometimes struggling to breathe but it also stands for HOPE, FAITH, and one day a CURE. Aaron shouldn’t have died and with the kind of strength he had everyone thought he would beat it, but he didn’t. Many others will fall as he did and unfortunately many families will understand what it means to be “Forever Blue”. I want people to understand that not all cancer is pink… Not to say that Breast Cancer isn’t a worthy cause, because it ABSOLUTELY is. Before Aaron was diagnosed, I thought Cancer was Cancer, no matter what type it was. That the options were surgery and Chemotherapy. Did you know that everyone’s chemotherapy blend is different based on the type of Cancer you have, how it grows and how you progress through the treatment?! Maybe you did, because you are much smarter than me, but I didn’t know! Treatment plans are all very personalized to each type of cancer and it is INCREDIBLE the amount of research that has been done to get us to where we are today. But Cancer is a BEAST and we need all hands-on deck!

Colon Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer related deaths and the numbers are rising, but do we all BLUE OUT in March like we PINK OUT in October? So, what can we do to paint our towns BLUE, raise awareness, and hopefully make a difference? Wear BLUE! Be intentional as you slip on those blue jeans each day. Stop for a moment and say a prayer for those fighting this great big fight. Take a minute and educate yourself on the symptoms of Colon Cancer and if you have any GO TO THE DOCTOR! If you are 45 or older schedule your Colonoscopy. Become familiar with CRC organizations. The Colon Club is a great one, https://colonclub.com/ . Read a survivor’s story and SHARE it! Reach out to a caregiver or a fighter! They have special insight on what it means to be Blue. Check on the families of our fallen warriors. Look into local fundraisers in your area. Especially in March, they are out there! My family and friends will be participating in the MD Anderson Colorectal Cancer S.C.O.P.E. 5K on March 23rd, so put on your best BLUE outfit and go outside that day and walk/run with a purpose in mind. One filled with strength, faith, and hope. You don’t need to be touched by cancer to be part of such a worthy cause. There is strength in numbers, so let’s paint our towns BLUE and remain “FOREVER BLUE”, for our survivors and fallen warriors. They deserve it.

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