Here is our third entry in our Mama Diaries Cancer Series. There is so much respect for this mama and her ability to reclaim her life again. Having two little ones ages three and under is challenging in itself. Having two little ones ages three and under while battling cancer... well, that's a whole other level.
If you're a mother of young children, here's a letter to you...
If you saw me walking down the street or met me at the park with my kids, you would have no idea the nightmare I have been thru. It is even hard for me to believe it, that is until I look in the mirror and the harsh reality stares back at me. My once long beautiful brown hair is now something resembling a mop of brown hair that stands straight up! Sure, my boobs may look full and great (no longer saggy from breast-feeding two children), but to me they are completely numb, and sometimes feel like strange weights that are somehow glued to my chest. I always joked about wanting a boob job after kids, but I’d take my old saggies any day just to feel like me. These things suck, but they are just the surface, and if cancer teaches you anything, it is that there is so much more than what is on the surface.
Cancer steals the ability to not look beyond the surface. It forces you to go deep within and think about the scary dark stuff that our minds usually protect us from thinking about. The thoughts of what will happen to my children if I am not here? Who will kiss their little heads a million times a day and breathe in the sweet smell, that no other being on this planet has. Who will wipe their tears when they fall, and what if I miss seeing them grow up and walk down the aisle or become parents themselves. Then I realize, I am surrounded by love. My husband a pillar of strength and reason, my family, one that only knows how to love and support, and my friends who made sure our family was fed for months on end when I was undergoing treatment. Yes, my children would be ok, but what is not ok, is me. I am not ok with the idea that I would miss those things. I am more than not ok, I am pissed off and I will not accept that. I am strong and “brave,” but honestly, isn’t this how any mom would respond? Sometimes, I just have to let myself be angry. No this is not fair, I hate that cancer took away my ability to be invisible. I hate that sometimes I still reach for my head at night to check if my hair is there, to confirm that this is in fact my reality and not just a nightmare. I sometimes wonder why me? I could answer this a million ways, but the way I choose to look at it is that I don’t believe life would deal me a hand that I couldn’t handle.
Cancer is scary. It makes us re-evaluate the way we see the world. As cliché as it sounds, it forces things into perspective. For me, it has made me think about my own identity. I didn’t want to be the “girl with cancer.” I spent the 8 months focusing on healing and trying to be as normal as I possibly could. To continue to be a mom and a wife when it felt like the world around me was falling down. Cancer gave me the chance to live, and focus on being a better version of myself. A me who can put my cell phone down and roll around on the floor and listen to my little monkeys as they wrestle each other laughing their little heads off. I really don’t think there is anything better in the world.
Despite, all the pain and ugly, I do feel blessed. Even the challenging times like when my 3 year old refuses to get dressed, or when my son tries to climb every piece of furniture while I attempt to wash dishes, I am grateful. I get to experience this! I am not lying in bed or sitting on the couch watching my life go by me, that part is over, and I get to be present. It’s hard to not let cancer make you bitter, but when you focus on the sweetness you have, it makes every day you feel “good” a small victory to hold onto. There are good days and bad days along this journey, but somehow you get to the other side and start to regain a sense of normalcy. Never the same carefree life as before, or one without that sick feeling you get at the thought that cancer can come back, but a sense that it is ok for you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.
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