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Gin Schaffer is a former higher education administrator and works part-time at MWHC's Regional Cancer Center as the Coordinator of Integrative Medicine. She lives in downtown Fredericksburg and enjoys walking and biking with her husband and 2 kids (especially if coffee is involved).



Pink Ribbon Journey

When Steve and I told the kids we were moving to Virginia, we figured the best way to “get them on board” was to make it sound like an adventure. Given we were moving during the summer, it wasn’t too hard to get them excited because we had many family and friends scheduling their time with activities and “camp-like” adventures.  Then, school started and we had some minor bumps, but a routine got under way and all seemed well. 

One key part of this adventure is living in a temporary apartment where the kids have to share a room - we even bought a fort-like bunk bed to sweeten the deal.  I think Steve and I got lulled into thinking that the kids were still accepting that part of the adventure.  This past week definitely signaled for us that the adventure is over for Jack; I guess in some ways, we are all feeling that way. 

Tuesday, October 21 marked the one year anniversary of Steve’s mother’s death.  I expected for us to go out and do something, take a walk, grab some dinner, anything to just spend time together.  As soon as Steve and Jack walked in from the bus stop, it was clear Jack had a very bad day at school.  A mixture of events had occurred that were bullying actions on the part of his classmates, but understandably, it was hard to get the full story from Jack, so I requested to be contacted by the teacher. 

We decided to go out to eat where, of course, due to us being out of sorts, none of us were aware that Anna had left her beloved Periwinkle from Blue’s Clues in the restaurant. We were so sad, Periwinkle is her class mascot - she “watches” over everything.  We tried to cheer ourselves up by hoping she brought joy to a kid who found it.  Luckily, the restaurant manager found it two days later, and yes, I had already gone online to purchase a replacement with Magenta included as a new friend. 

On Wednesday, I was thankful to receive a telephone call from Jack’s teacher informing me what had occurred and what action had been taken to resolve the issue.  Two of Jack’s classmates had been disciplined for taking his snacks and Jack had used marker to color his shoes (I think because of anxiety) and didn’t tell the truth, at first, that he had been the one to do it.  That issue felt resolved, but there was more going on with Jack. 

Jack’s teacher reported to me that although he is doing well on graded tests and homework, he is not finishing in-class work, as though he is overwhelmed by it.  He was also unusually disrespectful to her on Thursday.  His teacher said that he has mentioned to her that he doesn’t like sharing a room with his sister.  I found that interesting in that he had just said to me on Wednesday evening, “I don’t think I can be a brother anymore.”   

As his mother, I did the best I could to convince him that he’s a great brother and that he is needed.  But, I have a lot of self-doubt as to whether he believes me.  He frequently asks, “when is this (my cancer) going to be over?” and since I don’t have a definitive answer, I can’t blame him for questioning what I say. 

I’ve scanned the parenting books and there aren’t any guides for how to raise your 6-year-old boy, when you have cancer, in a new town, in a temporary apartment, with his dad and 3-year-old sister.  But, there are about a million of them that you can pluck ideas from that address each topic separately! 

Right now, there is literally no space for Jack to call his own - for his schoolwork or his emotions.  Steve and I often recognize when Jack and Anna need time apart, but that is usually at the end of the week or during the weekend.  Now, we have to re-tool the weekday evenings to address Jack’s need for some alone time as well as adjust Anna’s expectations. 

And, what could be better than changing routine as we enter the crazed Halloween-Thanksgiving-Holiday season!  But, that’s what we do as parents.  We constantly adjust schedules, diets, medications, and make decisions as new information becomes available about our children. 

Realizing that the adventurous honeymoon is over is probably a good thing, there are always new adventures ahead of us.

And with these superheroes, what could go wrong? 

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