We are all in the same boat, in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.

—G. K. Chesterton my life abruptly changed on Valentines Day, 1992, when my 3-year-old daughter was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (high-risk). At the time, I was the full-time mother of two small daughters, Katy, 3 years old, and Alison, 18 months.

The phone call from my pediatrician informing me of Katys probable diagnosis began my transformation into a "hospital mom." On the two-hour trip to the nearest children's hospital, I naively thought that my background would equip me to deal with the difficulties ahead. I had a degree in biology, and had worked my way through the university in a series of hospital jobs. I had experience in the blood bank, the emergency room, the coronary care unit, and the IV (intravenous) team. After college, I was a paramedic with a busy rescue squad and for several years taught emergency medical technician courses at the local community college. I understood the science and could speak the jargon; I thought I was prepared.

I was wrong. Nothing prepares a parent for the utter devastation of having a child diagnosed with cancer. My brain went on strike. I couldn't hear what was being said. I felt like I was trapped in a slow-motion horror movie.

I came home from Katys first hospitalization with two shopping bags full of booklets, pamphlets, and single sheets containing information on a wide variety of topics. I didn't know how to prioritize what I needed to learn, so I started by researching everything that I could about leukemia. With the help of my wonderful family and hardworking friends, I began to rapidly fill several file cabinets with information on the medical aspects of the disease.

Emotionally, however, I felt lost. Since most of Katys treatment was outpatient, I lived too far away to benefit from the hospital's support group, and I knew no local parents whose child had leukemia. I felt isolated. Then I discovered Candlelighters. (See

Appendix C, Resource Organizations.) This marked a turning point in my ability to deal effectively with my daughters disease. I began networking with the parents and made marvelous friends. I soon realized that we shared many of the same concerns and were dealing with similar problems. Advice from "veteran" parents became my lifeline.

Single Parenting Becoming the Best Parent For Your Child

Single Parenting Becoming the Best Parent For Your Child

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