Saturday, December 13, 2008
Get Out of the Station Wagon!
Two words: Breast Cancer.
Type: Triple Negative.
Plan of Action: Mastectomy followed by chemo.
First thought: Dear God. What will my kids do!
Life is so fragile, in moments our lives change and suddenly we realize we have no time to lose.Life is not just changing, life is racing past you. There is no making time up, you must live in every moment, without regret. As each morning comes, as you breath in deeply, as you wake your children you realize each and every day may certainly be your last.
I was 32, in my early 30's when life came to a screeching holt. I was looking in the mirror one day healthy and the next processing news my life could be actually coming to an end. Everything changed, my priorities were reorganized. My boys are everything to me and so I began living as if every minute I had with them was my last. Honestly, it isn't a bad way to live.
Cancer found me in a crazy way, I was blind sided, but the gifts she has given me . Well, they are precious. So I ask you this: What would you do if you were sitting alone when you heard the those words two words, breast cancer? As a mother would your worry be for your children? Would you ponder your children's lives without you? Who would tuck them into bed at night, kiss their worries away and celebrated life's everyday victories with them? When your last goodbye was said, how would they remember you? So again I ask what would you do?
Would you just stop, wait for the day cancer strikes her last blow? Or would you stop and smell the roses, take in each and every moment you were given with your children? Yes, it's a uphill battle, but hope is not lost. Death, we can face it bravely. But what about our footprints ? How do we leave them behind us for our children to follow in, to remember us by? As a mother my purpose since breast cancer came knocking on my door has been about leading my boys to a place of laughter, yes filled with some tears, but mostly a life full of hope. When my boys look back how will they remember me? My simple hope is both vividly and full of life over flowing.
So Again I ask what would you do? As a woman, hearing those words and knowing you have only one shot at beating this beast what choices would you make? Knowing you had to fight to live, to survive what would you do? How would you strike back knowing you had only this one chance to hit the beast with all you have?
My point is this, cancer can be overwhelming. Life comes at you from all sides, full of demands both from the beast and those surrounding you. Sometimes, the choices can be hard. Some may not really even see you are fighting, striving to come up for air. But then your heart and soul are revived and suddenly you are a whole new woman. You're not the same person you once were and coming to terms with this knowledge can be overwhelming at best. The you who used to allow those around you to drain you of your time, energy, balance and confidence is gone. You find you are stronger, absolutely ready to take charge of your life and the time you have left with your babies.
Stepping back from the chaos life begins to bloom unlike anything you have ever felt or known before. The clarity, all the colors and this new life can be altering and to some shattering. The back lash of this new you can be frightening to those you love, and those closest to you. Some may even feel betrayed. Suddenly feeling as they are on the outside looking in. Without a reason they can start closing in on you from all sides without even realizing it. Your cancer may seem invisible, out of plain site. Sadly many may take your strength for granted. Unintentionally many get caught up in their own fear may not even see your cancer. At the end of the day you may feel left behind as the beast rages inside of you, dragging you off into her den. You are the warrior, the strong one, the woman who can take control of everything and be everything to every one. You have no vulnerabilities to anyone anymore. Then you wake up one morning and realize if you keep up this speed, you will have nothing left to give your children. The station wagon full of Larry, Mo and Curly suddenly comes to a painstaking holt! The brakes squeal and the doors open. Without another thought, you hear yourself say," Get out of the station wagon! Please? "Life is just too short.
I sometimes have to stop and laugh at the thought of me fighting off this beast, branding a sword in each hand, and a dagger in between my toes. I am a one woman show twirling, dodging blows, striking when and where I can. I am the village protectress fighting alone. How could I dare allow this beast and her furry to touch the villagers? Maybe I should call myself the village idiot instead? Truth here folks? I am not Joan of Arch! I can not do this alone! I do not wish to throw myself upon the fiery stake. Really I don't. this is the thing we all have to stop and realize we are not one women armies. I can tell you without a doubt I am not a caped super hero! I have plenty to go around,really I do. I just have to be careful to keep enough of me a side for my children too. Plain and simple, I am weak too. I stumble and many times collapse even though I do so behind closed doors.
Mothers, with cancer have a choice to make. Do we spend every moment of every day trying to please everyone, or do we snatch up every moment we have left with our children and run? We are fighting, hitting back, pushing and shoving the beast away at every turn. This time we have with our children, these memories we make, well they may seem selfish to many. Sadly they may be, but the time we spend with our children, the promises we keep, these are the times we imprint memories upon our children's hearts. These are the moments we pray they will never forget. While we fight to live we are praying our children will not forget us, who we are, who we were. We want them to hold these moments close even if they are bittersweet. Our souls will rise and fly away soon enough, so this time, these moments, these lives we hold close are painfully too short.Once this life is gone, we can't take it back, or make it up. All we have is the here and now so why aren't we living life as if it is our last everyday? Gently, tenderly, painfully we need to grasp at whatever time we are given with these precious tiny lives. Our real hope as mothers living with breast cancer? One day when our children are grown , when time has passed and they visit a landmark, sit in a chair, enjoy something as simple as a slice of pizza... they will remember us, their mothers.
So yes, my children are precious to me, as all our children are.They are both my heart and soul. If and when the end comes , I hope I have done enough so they remember and do not forget me. I pray they will keep my memory alive, who I am and how much I have loved them inside their hearts as they grow into men. I am reminded of the Disney song from Dumbo, "Baby Mine". Dumbo's mother was trapped, imprisoned but still she reached through those bars and cradled her baby. The song is a precious lullaby between mother and son. The telling tale of separation and a mothers' one chance to hold her child close to her, impress her love upon him and say goodbye.Many may scold her for protecting her child, still she would do it all over again. That is the way of it, isn't it? I could ask for no better example of cancer's prison.
None of us ever want our children, husbands or any of our family or friends to feel alone or left out in the rain. We do want to be strong for everyone, but we can't. Truly. we have tried to be all things to all people all of the time. But those days are behind us. Some may lose faith in us because of this. I know many women facing this battle go through this over and over again. I say this to those of you still struggling: Faith may wavier but HOPE is never lost! In the end I know we will all make it through this struggle, one way or another.
As for me, I just don't want to regret any moments spent with my boys when the doors to this life finally come to a close. I want to know I have loved and been loved. I can't change this course life has me on. The miles may be long, and many days lonely. But this I know, one day the winter will turn into spring. Life will bloom again, even if it just a for a season. I pray the long night will pass and our brave fight will come to a peaceful end. I do not wish the scars of battle to last forever. So I fill this time we have left with memories, full of life and the living of it.
I have nothing to hide, I am an open book. So as I battle, as I heal and when I make my final journey into the light through darkness I will embrace the struggle. I tell you in the end, it is so much better to live, even if your spirit is weary, live life with your children as if there is no tomorrow. We do not have to go without leaving a living book for our children to read. Our children's love has the power to open bigger and greater doors.
So finally I ask you once last time how would you spend your last moments? Who knows the way it will end. Life is not a sure thing. We all gamble with the odds and pray for the best. So dance, fly and soak up each moment you are given with your children. The pathway is already lit, all you have to do is take the first step.