Ashley, a mom of two, started detailing her son’s journey with Langerhans cell histiocytosis after he was diagnosed in October of 2015. Amidst the day-to-day life, she shares Lexyn’s and their family’s experiences.
As I tucked Lexyn into bed one night, I laid beside him and asked if he was nervous for our much anticipated trip. In his usual laid back personality, he quickly replied no and stated he was excited to meet one of the smartest doctors. After kissing him goodnight, he looked up at me asked, “Could this cancer kill me?” I was numb. I had no words. My heart hadn’t felt such sadness since the day of Lexyn’s initial diagnosis.
I immediately laid back down beside him and told him that we would never let that happen. I assured him that cancer would not be taking his life. “You can’t promise me that though mom, because you never know,” he said. I was stunned. I was in disbelief. Here, laying beside me, was my 8-year-old son who was speaking the ugly honest truth. For he realized that, despite my reassurances, I couldn’t guarantee him that cancer wouldn’t take his life.
Sometimes, among the craziness in the world of cancer, you push aside the reality that you are fighting something life threatening. Trust me, you never forget that you are fighting cancer; it simply won’t allow you to forget. However, often, you push aside the realities of what cancer can truly do: it can end lives.
I’ve often laid awake at night wondering if this has been a fear of Lexyn’s. One of my biggest concerns throughout this journey is that Lexyn fears this battle will define him or, worse yet, win. Trust me, we recognize there are kids fighting this very moment to live one last holiday, one last birthday or even one last day. We pass these kids in the oncology wing. We see the kids passing us in the hallways that are missing limbs to cancer.
Don’t for one second believe that we don’t recognize our blessings on a daily basis. We recognize what a blessing it is to even be given the chance to fight! Despite these blessings, nobody can tell our eight year old son that he can’t be afraid. “You are right Lexyn,” I said as I proceeded to find the right answer, “I can’t promise you a hundred percent that cancer couldn’t take your life. What I can promise you is that we will never stop fighting and we will never allow you to give up. I promise you that we will always do whatever it takes to find you the best of the best medical care. I promise you that nothing in life is ever certain and that tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us.”
I feared my answer was not adequate and that his wisdom would direct at me another heart wrenching question; however, I was wrong. Lexyn looked up at me, smiled, hugged me and rolled over saying, “That’s true mom. Goodnight.”
I went to bed that night in tears. These were not tears for what Lexyn had asked. These were tears for the reality of what cancer can, and does, do. I laid there repeating to myself, over and over again, what I had just previously told my son: tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us. However, my heart simply just broke.
The reality is that, everyday, parents are having to say goodbye to their children due to this horrible disease. These are innocent children. These are children who have not had the opportunity to, like us adults, lead full and happy lives; for their young lives simply cannot be compared.
From the second Lexyn was born, I knew that he’d be teaching me what life was all about for many years to come. Never could I have imagined though, that I’d be drawing strength and wisdom from him at such a young age. There are moments his innocent eyes look at mine for answers, and it takes every part of me to fight back the fears.
In our family, we do not make promises that we can’t guarantee we can keep. He recognizes the importance of these promises and recognized that I shouldn’t make a promise that I couldn’t guarantee I could keep.
I couldn’t sleep that night. The nerves of our upcoming trip and our previous bedtime conversation were fresh on my mind. As I usually do when I can’t sleep, I snuck into the kids bedrooms and gave them extra nighttime kisses. However, this time when I got to Lexyn’s room I whispered a promise to him as he slept, “I promise with everything I have, that I won’t let cancer win.”
I had to make that promise to him because I know, with everything I have, that it’s one I can keep. For I knew that if he were awake, he’d debate that I certainly couldn’t keep that promise. While he’s wise beyond his years, he’s still eight and that still makes him a kid. Kids don’t always understand that winning means never giving up!