Written by guest contributors Joe and Alana Phillips
One of the hard parts of life is the many decisions we must make, not just occasionally, but every single day. Every day something must be decided. It can be so exhausting! It’s why we are unable to make what would seem to be the easiest of decisions, like, “What do you want for dinner?” We have spent so much time making decisions throughout the day that this simple question can bring with it so much weight.
When a family is introduced into the world of childhood cancer, the decisions we have to make carry even greater weight. There are many sleepless nights, tossing and turning with internal debates over the options presented by a team of doctors. Sometimes you are not given the luxury of a night to toss and turn. The decision needs to be made now. And all you have is the information that a medical team has given you. Information that you may or may not understand. Information filled with words that are like a foreign language to you. Because they are! The weight is even heavier.
Which chemo do we choose?
Is surgery a good option?
Should we head do the ER now, or give it a few hours?
New therapy options, or long-time standards?
Is it ok to question the doctors?
When to get a second opinion?
When do we end treatment?
That last one is a doozy. Especially if the current treatment was the last hope that a family had. Thankfully not every decision is like that, but they still are daunting. Childhood cancer parents will have to make decisions that may or may not have long-term effects on their child. A child that might ask questions in the future about those decisions now.
You may be asking yourself, “How do they make those decisions?”
The answer is different for each person or situation. Some families have a strong bond, and they bounce ideas off each other. Some will feel like they have no choice but to play “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.” And still yet, some will turn to a Higher Power and pray for clarity.
That may be the hardest path for some. To turn over our decision making to a Higher Power. Some will declare that as the last resort. But we are talking about something that is far bigger than the understanding many of us have, so why not bring it to God?
As parents, we feel responsible for all that happens to our children, but we must remember they were first God’s children, and He will care for them. Some parents struggle with this option. “God is mad at me.” “God hates my child.” “God has turned His back on us.” Painful statements to hear. Understandable, but nonetheless painful. This is why it is important for childhood cancer parents to hear and believe this truth:
God did not give your child cancer.
Normally, when people hear this, there is a “gasp” in the room. It gives them permission to include God back in their journey. There is comfort in having God walking with us on this journey. It is a journey that no parent signed up for. To know that the Rock of Salvation and the Creator of my child, is with each member of my family as we face this challenge. That is comforting!
There is no roadmap showing you how to make decisions for your child regarding childhood cancer. But you are offered the opportunity to know that the Light of Christ is with your child, your family, and you. He is offering you His Hope. His Rest. His Joy. His Presence. His Wisdom.
As long as we are making decisions standing on the Rock, then we can make decisions that can bring peace. His Peace. The results may not always work out our way, but His gift of eternal life is far greater than any result that we can experience here on earth.
The Phillips family— Joe, Alana, Luke, and Tillery—was introduced to Lighthouse Family Retreat when they were facing their own childhood cancer journey. After two years as a Retreat Family, the Phillips family loves coming back every year to walk alongside other families facing a cancer diagnosis. “Lighthouse is the heartbeat of our family,” they share.