Defining Support, The Cancer Mom Series: Dianna

Defining Support, The Cancer Warrior Mom Series is a collection of thoughts from many incredible Cancer Moms and how they define support. 

By Dianna Lariviere

Dianna is mom to Max, who currently is in treatment for Stage IV High Risk Neuroblastoma.

Dianna & Max

When Max was diagnosed on August 5, 2018 our lives were forever changed, and it’s been extremely difficult in so many ways we didn’t even imagine possible.  We live in a very rural community and it felt like everyone, even without knowing us personally, immediately dropped to their knees in prayer.  The outpouring of love for our son was and still is indescribable.  We moved south 8 years ago and to have so many people come together for our son still brings me to tears.  The impact Max has made in a weird way helps me.  His disease has put so many parts of life into perspective for not only us but everyone that knows him or follows his journey.  

It took a very long time for me to feel like I was ready to truly speak about being a cancer mom.  I have developed very bad anxiety and to be honest, I am angry.  Sure I do the updates and post about how pediatric cancer deserves more federal funding but to really talk in depth about the situation didn’t happen until more recently, and we are 9 months into an estimated 3-year treatment plan that’s 5 months behind the original schedule due to various factors.  Our social worker reached out to another cancer mom who’s son had a similar diagnosis and is doing well.  My anxiety and worry was really getting the best of me and I needed to hear from someone who lived it that there was light at the end of this pitch black tunnel.  She checks in all the time and has really been a blessing to me.  I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to show her how much she has helped me but someday I’ll try!  I’ve met other cancer moms that have treated at our hospital, Levine Children’s, and having someone who has lived the nightmare that you can openly talk to, that completely gets what you are saying without judgment, is a huge stress reliever.   You will never meet a group of more badass women (am I allowed to say that?!) than those who have had to watch their child, many times helplessly, endure treatment for cancer.

I am extremely thankful that we are treating at a hospital that provides such close care to the patient and family.  It really is a family.  These children bond so closely with the nurses and oncologists, social workers and child life specialists.  I was going to count how many days we have spent in the hospital but I don’t think that’s a good idea because it’s way more time than we have spent home. 

The parental support is so important.  I have friends and family that check on me multiple days a week.  I don’t always respond and they don’t care.  They just want me to know that they are there, from a distance, ready whenever I am for whatever I need – a cry, a scream, a hug, to vent or an adult beverage and not talking about the c-word at all.  I’m told quite often that I need to take care of myself to be able to take care of Max.  I’m still working on that part.  I love to do arts and crafts and garden but it’s hard when you aren’t home often or your child isn’t strong enough to allow for you to get that release.  Trying to fit in family time is difficult as well.  It’s not often the 3 of us are all together. 

I will forever be a cancer mom.  I’ll never be that person I was before I was told my child has cancer.  While everyone is wishing for their child to make the sports team or be top of their class or to not catch the stomach bug being passed around, I’m wishing for survival.  So to all those who have reached out, prayed and sent positive vibes, fed us and provided us with gas money, sent Max gifts to put a smile on his face and provided an ear to talk with – THANK YOU!  Your support matters more than I could ever put into words.

Donate in honor of these incredible women, your donation to the Isabella Santos Foundation helps fund research so desperately needed for rare pediatric cancer patients.

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