Cancer and Volcano Eruptions
by Christie Perkins
It was just the 5th grade volcano day.
For any other parent it would have been one of those dreaded weekend cram sessions of twirling homework hurling. But for me, life was erupting and spewing fresh hot lava down new paths.
The week I was diagnosed with cancer my life erupted and everything came to a halt. It seemed that all I could see was the lava flow of cancer. It was consuming me. Not that I was depressed, necessarily, but I was overwhelmed by the details of it.
One day I’m planning the sweet details of my own life and the next day my health care concerns are charring in life’s little fire. It’s like those sugared almonds I have trouble with. In one minute it’s looking good and then then next moment they are eyepopping black-ish. It’s the elite cancer lava plan I just got thrown into.
A diagnosis of cancer is overwhelming and all consuming. But a cancer diagnosis is not overly gloomy and dooming. With the bitter comes the incredibly sweet.
Like volcano day.
Upcoming Volcano Day
It was the highlighted moment of the year. Fifth graders looked forward to volcano day. Of course. It’s a day that things get a little messy. Who wouldn’t like Mento and Diet Coke explosions and food colored fizzy fissions spilling everywhere? (Well, who wouldn’t like it besides Mom’s who have to clean it all up, if you know what I mean?)
And I completely forgot all about this anticipated day.
Suddenly I hear the word cancer and it’s all I can focus on. And with the diagnosis, all the little things drop: recorded reading minutes, homework sign offs, personal basketball workouts, dinner ideas; lumpy laundry loads- all these things flop.
Yet, in the diagnosis of cancer you see some tender mercies. Oh, there’s a lot. And when you look for them you can see just how very kind our loving Heavenly Father is.
Especially for a 5th grade boy who is going to miss volcano day. My boy. My boy who just found out his mom has cancer. My boy who won’t say a word about it because he knows how inconvenient it would be for us to smack together a project right now. My boy who is patient will have to just wait, watch, and do it some other time…not in 5th grade.
Afterall, it was an optional day. Even if he did want to participate, it just wasn’t going to happen.
Then the phone rang.
It was my incredible home teacher.
Do What You Don’t Have To Do
“Hey, I know volcano day is coming quick. Send your kid over, I have all the stuff we need. We’ll just be on the driveway, so just come on over,” Lynn said.
Wow. My heart exploded and was spewing warm lava into my body. My heart burned. But this time it wasn’t destroying anything it was healing, comforting, and filling in the gaps. The gaps of me forgetting about Volcano Day.
I couldn’t do everything- I was starting to realize this. And though to him this may have felt like a simple and small thing, it was the thing I needed most. He was helping give that moment that I couldn’t give back.
And just 5 days after cancer diagnosis my boy was able to participate in the 5th grade Volcano Day. And I must say, his volcano was impressive: cement, chicken wire, paint, and gravel. It had major wow factor. I know because it had the eye-popping effect as we heaved it down the hallway. My muscles stayed bulged for a good hour afterwards.
Ok, yes, I’m exaggerating a little about the muscles.
(Side note: my volcano idea would have been a toilet paper roll and a slab of playdough… it would have had the total opposite eye-dropping and looking away effect. Anyway.)
Thanks Lynn E. for being an awesome home teacher. You will never realize how much this touched our hearts. And the best part about it all, you did it for us when it was an optional homework day. You knew it was optional. My boy didn’t “have” to do it. And by all means you didn’t have to either.
And I think that’s what was so incredible.
God is so kind to the people in our lives who suffer because of our situation. Look for the good. You will find it. And who knows, it may bring a little perk to your life.
Do something today for someone that you don’t “have” to do. Erupt their heart with a little act of kindness and warm their soul.
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