The last thing I want to be right now is special. The last thing I want is to have to speak about my cancer in front of my children, or to behave as a sick person, or to be limited in what I can do, now that I’m in recovery. But the truth is, I’m not all better yet. My lymphedema is pretty bad, with my right arm swelling up in knots and of limited use. I can’t use it to write more than a sentence or two, although I can type, and carrying my 15 month old 16 month old (Happy MonthBirthDay, Little Bear!) is still out of the question. But he’s not walking reliably yet either, which means that we’re just screwed unless Daddy is with us or we have the stroller.
Last week I screwed up my courage to ask for accomodation at the Butterfly Exhibit. This week, I’m asking the aquarium, where we’re members, if I can get special dispensation to push my baby in a stroller, since I can’t carry him, and can’t very well wait for him to decide to crawl up the stairs and around to all the exhibits by himself (He’d get trampled!).
It was one of the hardest letters I’ve ever had to write. Here’s a copy:
Dear (name deleted):
I have just completed nearly a year of treatment for breast cancer that took both my breasts and all my lymph nodes on one side. I developed lymphedema in that arm. As a result, I cannot carry my 15 month old child, who still isn’t walking. We have been members of the aquarium for two membership years now and have enjoyed it for several years prior, but I have a problem. Right now, until my little one learns to walk and gets strong enough to make it around the aquarium, I am not able to take him and my older child to the aquarium, as I need the assistance of a stroller to carry him. My arm and chest are simply too weak to carry him in a backpack or sling, or in my arms.
We would like very much to continue to enjoy the aquarium this year, possibly even on our own without assistance from other adults now that I no longer need a caregiver. I spoke on the phone to an associate about this, and she recommended that I talk to you about it. Would it be possible to issue me a temporary hangtag for a stroller, so that I can bring my children (15 months and almost 4) to see the dolphins with their friends once again?
Thank you for considering this request.
So that’s the struggle of the day. That and trying to straighten out some of the bills from the oncologist, surgical oncologist, radiation oncologist, lymphedema physical therapist, and the resulting schizophrenia from the insurance company. What a mess.
What do you think the outcome of my letter will be? Think she’ll say “Sure, no problem,” or “Nope, deal with it” ?