Never in a million years did I think childhood cancer would touch our family. It’s not that I thought we were untouchable; I just wasn’t aware or educated on how common it actually is.
January 26 and January 27 of 2013 are days that will be burnt into my memory forever. Late on January 26, we took our then 2 year old son to the emergency room. An hour after being there, doctors confirmed what one of us knew was already happening (me) and what the other was blown away by: Jace had leukemia.
As if we were in a movie, the on-call oncologist ran to us as they were hoisting Jace up into the ambulance for his first transfer. “It’s ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia),” she said. All I knew at the time was that was good because the cure rate for ALL is very high. The only other thing I knew was that our faith and the foundation we’d built on it up to that point would be the only thing keeping us afloat.
Days went on and we were thrust into a world of chemotherapy, long hospital stays, surgery, and an emotional roller coaster all with a sweet bald boy and his two older sisters.
As we began to get a handle on all of the things most people commonly know about cancer, we also began to realize there were many more stressors along our journey.
We did NOT expect in another million years that people (family even) would dump negativity in and forget all about the comfort. During ANY difficult time in a family, they need positive words, affirmation, and comfort. I wish that we had learned this theory before we started walking this journey, but, nonetheless, we found it right when we needed it.
We heard some interesting things along the way from others:
“This is how Jace’s cancer is affecting ME.”
“I can’t believe you’d actually give him morphine.”
“He’s still doing treatment? I just wish it was over.”
“I just don’t know how you all are going to get through this.”
My Ring Theory
The way the ring theory works is the person going through the trauma goes in the middle. The next ring would be the person closest to the person who is directly affected. This could be a husband, wife, parents, siblings.
Then, you continue repeating the process as many times as you need to. Distant relatives next, then intimate friends, less intimate friends and so on.
Now, the rules. The person in the middle can say anything they want to anyone anywhere: “Life is unfair. Why me?” Everyone else can say those things, too, but they MUST express those feelings to someone in an OUTER circle. When talking to someone in an inner circle the goal is to help and often just listen. Offer to bring dinner, help with children, do grocery shopping or errands.
COMFORT IN and DUMP OUT.
Once we blogged to our friends and family about this theory and gave some examples of what we heard, things seemed to be better and we received less dumping which in turn allowed us to continue to be positive for Jace and our girls and helped to keep our frame of mind clear and ready to do what was needed to care for our son.
A year and a half later, Jace is now 4 years old and in the maintenance phase of treatment. We continue to use the circle theory as a way not only to navigate our journey, but a way to also help others whose lives have also changed due to trauma or grief.
Tisha Poncio’s son, Jace, was diagnosed with leukemia (ALL) January of 2013 at 2 ½ years old. Since the beginning of the long 2+ year treatment journey, Tisha and her husband, Jason, have been working on several ways to help caregivers of childhood cancer. Their family has been featured in several newspaper articles for their idea of paying it forward after their community rallied around them and supported them in their time of need. You can read more about their story and their work at www.onthewingsofgratitude.com.