‘Most Bad-Ass Parent Ever’

That’s you, starting today!

    Despite your inner most desire to pick up your baby and run in the opposite direction when your child is facing cancer or any other serious medical diagnosis it’s our job as their parent to become ‘the most bad-ass parent ever’. It’s our job to make this into a battle that The Avengers would be proud of – get your SuperHero persona at the ready, get your fighting fists up and get ready to kick some butt; hand in hand with your kid. – This is a fight you are going to win!

    When our son was 4, and out of nowhere diagnosed with Leukaemia, we felt like rabbits caught in the headlights. Tear sodden and practically shaking with fear, we didn’t know what to expect or what to do to cope with this lightening bolt out of the blue.

The most upbeat, fist-pumping, excited, cheerleader going

    I’ll never forget the moment on day four (after some rather traumatic experiences – cannulas where not his friends to start with) Dex pulled me down to his height and whispered into my ear ‘is this going to hurt?’ he was obviously terrified and at the moment I thought ‘f**k this, I need to seriously up my game’. And with that I morphed into the most upbeat, fist-pumping, excited, cheerleader going. This was going to be an adventure, Dex was the SuperHero, the cancer was the baddies and we had some butt to kick.

Chants of ‘chemo, chemo, we’re coming for ya!

    We prepped Dex for every procedure but made it into a game, a part of our adventure. Cannulas, injections and magic sleeps all became ‘the good guys, coming to fight the bad guys’. Every treatment room became a super hero mission, an adventure ‘what were we going to see, who were we going to meet?’. We had team chants of ‘chemo, chemo, we’re coming for ya’. We roared at pain instead of crying. We high-fived and fist pumped and cheered. We spoke to everyone, we made up funny names for the nurses and had secret whispers. We had midnight feasts and walked the wards late at night – we made it fun. And before long Dex was smashing it!

    He watched every injection, barely flinching, then would happily tell us every detail of what it felt like, bringing it to life with made up descriptions of the medicine running through him to punch all the baddies away. He entered treatment rooms with a skip in his step, went for magic sleeps discussing the dreams he planned to have while I joked about eating all his pre-planned snacks for afterwards. He downed his medicine racing against the timers we would have going. He quickly stopped holding my hand, he quickly started talking to everyone, he quickly became known for his bravery and eventually won a WellChild award (presented by Prince Harry no less) for how well he coped with it all.

    Don’t get me wrong there were days where he felt too ill to act like a superhero, where quiet mummy cuddles was what was required, but on the days where we had to stay in hospital, where we had needles, port accesses and chemo to face, our gunghoe attitude without a doubt transformed his experience of treatment and influenced how he coped.

A lively, loud, fun mum who had his back

    Never a tear was shed or a negative or concerned word spoken in front of him. All he saw was a lively, loud, fun mum who had his back even with needles coming towards him, general anaesthetics taking their hold or chemo running into him – the image we portrayed to him day in and day out was that it was all ‘no biggie’.

    How we coped, through the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, is one of the proudest achievements of my life. If by sharing our story and helping other kids build their ‘superhero selves’ helps just one kid take on their battle with slightly more ease, then I’ll be so proud of that too, and so proud of them too.

Go get em parents – you can do this.

Josie Barron