Focus on Your Family – Tariq’s mom, Samia

No parent expects to go to the doctor and hear the words, “Your child has cancer.” One to two children are diagnosed with childhood cancer every week in Central Virginia. Doctors diagnosed Samia’s son in May 2017. She counts 420 total days in the ER, inpatient or clinic visits. Think about that. More than a year of her son’s life. He’s only six years old. “It’s as if we were in a pressure cooker and are just now emerging. We are intensely closer now, but much of what we lived through will cause lifelong anxiety.” The one word she used to describe cancer was “Trauma.”

What is the hardest part of the cancer journey as a parent?
Everything changed in an instant. One day you're planning summer camps for your children. Then the next day, you're finding a place for one child to stay the night so you can stay in the hospital. You come face to face with the reality that there is no amount of money, effort or love that you can provide for your child to deflect his pain and fears.

What does a day in the clinic and/or a day of inpatient look like? 
There are fears of catching a virus walking in the parking lot, through the elevators and hallway. There is downtime as you wait on doctors, staff, lab and pharmacy orders. Three-minute outpatient chemo treatment is typically a three-hour visit. By the time you get home, you and your child are spent, hungry and just looking for some TLC. I have to remind myself to loosen my shoulder and unclench my jaw as I’m often unknowingly tense from the day.

Are there any particular ways Connor's Heroes helped support you and your family with any of the above struggles?
Connor’s Heroes has been amazing. I still use the backpack they gave me a year ago. They filled it with amazing and useful items. The gift cards covered food and travel expenses. My son found the art sessions to be very therapeutic. They gave my other son opportunities that kept him busy and safe.

What is the #1 thing cancer has taken away from your hero's future?
Nothing. I refuse to believe that my son’s future is any less bright from before. He can do anything.