Monday, July 18, 2011

On Being a Cancer Mom

This layout was created for the July Technique challenge at Birds of a Feather Kit Co. The challenge was to do a layout with absolutely NO patterned paper.

This one just kind of came together all by itself. Last night I wanted to do a journal entry about "how do I do it" and the words just flowed out. Afterwards I decided I had to do a page with it as the focus, and this challenge seemed perfect. Using no patterned paper seemed scary at first... I started by deciding on a color scheme of red, blue, and green which are my 3 favorite colors. I took a light blue cardstock and inked it with 3 different blue colors, then took a cream cardstock and inked it with 3 different green colors. I then misted in red the white cardstock. I printed out my journalling and framed it in red, then put together the basic layout. I also surprisingly didn't use a sketch for this one either! Once I had all the cardstock down, I started adding embellishments, and added more.. and when I thought I was done I added a couple more. Of course, before I took the picture I looked through my stash and stapled the tickets to the side (also first time using staples on a layout). Now I love this layout, and I think it's my favorite one so far!

The journalling reads:

Being a cancer mom means staying up late and getting up early. My days are filled with feeding tubes, feeding pumps, medicine schedules, doctor appointments, chemotherapy, MRIs, physical therapy, speech therapy, music therapy, vision teachers, teaching my son to stand, pushing his limits, trying to get him to talk, to sign words, trying to get him to accept food in his mouth, cleaning when he throws up, washing rugs, piles of laundry, singing songs to calm him down, and sometimes multiple baths a day. I am no stranger to hospital stays, fevers and infections are my biggest fears, and waiting for the results of scans gives me anxiety.

In addition to these responsibilities, I am also a wife, a maid, a cook, and a mother to another son without cancer. I must not neglect these other responsibilities while also working from home when I can. In the past year and a half, many people have asked me how I do it.. how I handle everything and seem so calm. My only answer is because I have no choice. If I lose focus, it doesn't change anything. Collin still has cancer. The family still needs to be fed. The house still needs to be clean. Laundry still needs to be done. And sometimes, I even manage to get in a nap.. I do need to sleep sometime. I've lost connections with some friends who I guess just can't handle how different my world is.. and I've gotten close to new friends who maybe don't understand exactly what I'm going through, but they don't pretend it doesn't exist either. I manage to find the occasional hour or two to myself, to scrapbook or make cards, to recharge myself.

Of course, I can't always pretend everything is rosy all the time. I don't go to the mall anymore because I will yell at the girls at the modelling kiosk when they ask me if I want my baby to be a model... do they only see the stroller when they approach me? Do they not see the feeding tube in his nose? While he is always beautiful to me, I know he's no gerber baby, and I'm okay with that. Once I even yelled at the window/siding salesman at BJ's. He was standing in front of me so that I couldn't continue walking and after he wouldn't take no for an answer I started yelling at him.. I have a child with cancer, I can't afford to do home repairs. Of course, when I take Collin to the store, no one usually comments on his feeding tube or asks what's wrong with him when he doesn't make eye contact. Only a few people have asked questions, and they've all been nurses or people with experience with cancer or disabilities. These people I have no problem talking to... it was hard at first, but it gets easier. I guess it's hard to say "this is Collin, he has brain cancer". He is so much more than a cancer patient, and I am so much more than a cancer mom.


  1. Beautiful layout. Your journaling is very touching. You sound like an amazing mom!

  2. Jen, Beautiful layout and picture and an amazing post! It is one of my favorites, too. You are an amazing woman!

  3. Loved what you wrote some honest insight into your life , it's difficult and your right on keeping focused it's the only way to get though it
    A big hug to you , I've been though it and it's a mothers love that keeps us going .
    Big hugs to you and sweet Collin



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