One question we’ve often asked ourselves, and Josh especially asked as he was first learning that he had cancer, was “Why did this happen?” And, more personally, “Why did this happen to Josh?” Cancer is just something that happens, so there may never be answers to these questions. Although, I don’t know if the how and the why matter as much as the second most common question we were asking which was “What now?”
With Josh’s upcoming completion of his radiation/chemotherapy treatments tomorrow and discharge from the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital on Saturday, we are transitioning to an entirely new game plan. Yes, he will continue with therapy, doctor visits, and more rounds of chemotherapy, but he will be able to spend the majority of his time at home. That is something I haven’t been able to say since mid-March when all of this started.
It will feel good to have everybody back in the same roof again, but I can’t say with confidence that life will return to the way things were back in March. As all of these started, we lost our old lives in the same way that a snake sheds an old layer of skin.
I’d like to think that this is all happening as a part of an overall plan. I know that Josh is destined to keep working hard at gaining back his abilities, and then beating cancer, but perhaps this is all meant to prepare him for something greater he wouldn’t be ready for without these experiences. I have talked to a number of cancer survivors who have gone on to find ways to help others who struggle with cancer. Either way, this is something he will carry with him for the longest time.
This has also forced me to change my perspective on parenthood. As Josh had gotten older, I was struggling to find a way to connect with him. Over these last few months, we’ve had to connect on levels that I never considered. First, random pantomiming, then soft whispers, then vague one and two word sentences. Both communication and patience continue to be super important.
We have been blessed in many ways throughout this ordeal, beginning with the referral to the ER by Josh’s pediatric doctor, to his transfer to Devos and hundred percent removal of the tumor. Then, there has been the outpouring of prayers and support from friends, family, neighbors, and community members. During Josh’s rehabilitation process, we’ve been blessed by an outstanding staff at Mary Free Bed, as well as a gracious staff at the Hope Lodge where I’ve been able to stay for free when I stayed in Grand Rapids.
Saturday evening, after we’ve gotten Josh into the house and gotten settled in, the question of the hour could be “What’s next?” Because with everything that life has thrown our way, Josh and the rest of us have learned to keep fighting.