It’s all about balance – this cancer management thing, I mean. 

This week, it’s been balancing my need to just heal with the oncologist’s need to do LOTS of tests.  But I’ve been able to spend my healing and resting time productively.  I’ve taken many of the hours with my arm elevated to reflect on how essential balance is in every area, between the cancer and non-cancer parts of life.

For example, I have to balance my need to be independent and strong with my need to have help.  Days 1 and 2 of chemotherapy seem to be fine, all the sedatives and pain drugs make the first two days pretty much a blur.  Days 3 and 4 are not too bad, since they are weekend days, I can get IV fluids at home, and I don’t have to go anywhere or do anything.  Plus there are lots of big kids around to spoil me.  I think it’s day 5 that got me this time.  The Emend and Aloxi (superspecial IV antiemetics) are done and gone, Emily and Brian are at school, and life is supposed to return to normal.  NOT.   The oncologist thinks that it was getting dehydrated on days 5 and 6 that got me this past time.  He called it “the precipitating event”….

But anyway, back to balance.  Obviously, I want my parents here for Christmas.  The kids REALLY want them here.  However, I NEED more help on days 5 and 6.  So we made a trade off.  My mom and dad aren’t going to come down until after Christmas, with my sister, AJ and the boys, but my dad is also going to fly down next Sunday, to take care of things on days 4, 5 and 6 of this cycle.   Then, they’re also going to be able to stay through days 4, 5 and 6 of my NEXT cycle.   Once Jane thought of the idea, and my dad was able to get a reasonably priced plane ticket and clear his schedule, it was obvious that asking for help was the right choice.  My anxiety level about the next round of chemotherapy has gone way down.

But it’s tough when I have to make judgements about balancing my needs with the kids needs.  Like yesterday.  Brian LOVES soccer.  He loves it more than he loves just about anything else except George.  He was invited to a special training session for kids that the league thinks are good candiates to move from challenge up to classic (the two levels of competitive soccer, as opposed to recreational soccer) … If I wasn’t doing chemotherapy and all, it wouldn’t have been an issue.  I would have piled everybody in the car and driven 16 miles away in late afternoon traffic out to Matthews.  No problem.  So I had to decide if it was fair for Brian to have to miss out on something important to him, or if I should put forth a little extra effort  use my last bit of remaining energy for a non-essential errand. 

How do you balance two opposing needs?  My need to make things as normal as possible for my children versus my need to be still and rest?  My need to shelter them from excessive stress and worry with their need to know why I can’t do everything they want me to do? 

One other tough one is trying to find the right balance between extra responsibilities for the big kids, and their need to still be kids.  Sure, it would be easier for me if Sam, Emily and Brian stayed in every afternoon to do more chores and totally take care of the little guys.  And I think they probably do more around here than the vast majority of their peers… I mean, how many 9 year olds can competently, confidently, happily change a diaper, feed a baby, rock him to sleep and settle him down for a nap?  But that same 9 year old needs lots of outside time for his physical and mental health.  How do I find the right balance?

Hmmmm….. no easy answers, I think. 

Love, Elizabeth

6 thoughts on “Balance

  1. elizabeth, balance in life is like balance in ballet. at first you don’t do it very well, you wobble too far to one side and then you counterbalance too far to the other side, and you fall a lot and sometimes you get bruised but you get back up and try again. and bit by bit, as you get more practice in balancing, you get better at it–you don’t wobble too far in any direction, and if you do, you know just how much to go the other direction to correct it. but you still have to work at it, and some days you are not as coordinated or you are too tired and sometimes you still fall. but you still get up, and that is where the victory lies.


  2. I could not say anything more appropos or moving than the words Rowena wrote! Lots of love and prayers……..tell the “big kids” I have great respect for them!

  3. I need to make a minor clarification.
    Elizabeth writes: “my dad was able to get a reasonably priced plane ticket and clear his schedule”.
    That reads a bit like my trip to Charlotte next week was somewhat contingent on those two matters.
    My trip was a done deal the instant she asked. Travel arrangements and my schedule were afterthoughts – and I might even have enjoyed hitchhiking for old times sake.

  4. Don’t forget, if you need help with the balancing act, I-85 is a very nice drive with plenty of Cracker Barrels for sustenance…we would be glad to help on whatever days needed.

    Love from Norfolk.

  5. To Mr. Elizabeth’s Dad:
    Please don’t hitchhike. Dangerous. Too many kooks on the road.
    Surely there are trains with empty box cars you can jump into instead. >;-)

    ps – I never got the impression that your travel to Charlotte was contingent upon plane fares and scheduling. Sometimes even “done deals” require a bit of planning. 🙂

  6. I just discovered your site through Elizabeth Foss. Wow. You are incredible, and I will be offering my rosary for you today. It is beautiful that you have help, and even more beautiful that you have humbled yourself by accepting it. May God bless and strengthen you, and may you rest securely in his hands during your trials.

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