When I was 13, I was kicked in the solar plexus during karate class. The sensei came over to me and explained to me that I had "gotten the wind knocked out of me." And he was right. Quite literally, in fact. I couldn't breathe. Hearing that your son has a brain tumor knocks the wind out of you in a completely different way.
As a medical social worker, I have witnessed both in my patients and clients. I saw my parents take a downhill slide as they aged, even though they did so with grace. I have a difficult time allowing myself to be taken care of, since my role has long been that of caregiver. As I face my fears, they become less fierce.