About Me...

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In a nut shell : I'm a wife, a full time working mom, a teacher, a Star Wars geek, comic book nerd, Disney enthusiast, hockey Mom, a decade long breast cancer survivor, and oh let's not forget such a happy, sassy, southern mess!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Life Lesson #83 ~ Brave Hearts



“In this house we don’t give up.” It’s our motto, our hakuna matata you could say. Being a young mother diagnosed with TNBC in 2006 was shocking to say the least. But it was downright absolutely frightening for my children. They were babies really. Joshua was 9, in third grade and Micah was in first grade just turning 7 the week I started chemo. You can say this wasn't exactly  how I saw our story playing out myself. That in mind I can just imagine mommy having cancer wasn’t anything like Goodnight Moon for the boys either. Breast cancer, isn't a fairy tale of heroics and martyrs. It’s a battle to the death, for life. Either cancer is going down, or you are. It’s just that horrifically simply. When I look back on my life, on my kids and their battle with my disease I’m amazed by their bigger than life brave hearts. They are what we call co-survivors. Why, well because they too were fighting the beast right alongside me. Literally, “my kids were my heroes through it all.”

I clearly remember Joshua asking me, “Mommy are you going to die?” Oh how I can still feel my heart sink. I mean what do you say to your little boy, no? You don’t want to add to his fear or anxiety but you sure don’t want to lie to him either. Let me tell you trust is such an important piece of the puzzle.  Especially when you’re facing the biggest fight of your life. I mean by this time I had undergone multiple surgeries; chemo had already taken my hair, my health, my energy and my taste buds. Death looked like it had come and gone from my door step and eaten me whole many times over. In that moment I just sat there, my heart crumbling and breaking apart honestly as I held him. I took a deep breath,  looked him in the eyes, smiled and said, “Not if I can help it. We’re going to fight this beast together, and together we’re going to slay it.” The idea of knowing my child had to carry such a burden, my burden no less on his back at such a young age was agonizing and gut-wrenching. Joshua, he was my little man, full of hope and yes fear. “Let’s go here and we’ll do this together mommy.” Joshua, he was always planning, he always about living and making memories to hold on to. He also took such good care of me, holding my hand and walking slowly with me, never leaving me without a hug. Taking a quote directly from Joshua himself when he was about 12 years old gives some insight into how strong he really was. "I was sad when Mom had to have surgery. I hated the days I knew she had to go to the hospital. I cried a lot too. I didn't want to lose my mom. I loved to climb in bed with her and listen to her sing to me. Snuggling was what made me feel close to her. I never wanted that to end." (Joshua's Story) 

Joshua was my worrier whereas Micah on the other hand dealt with his fear through humor. Micah, he never failed to make me laugh. Didn’t matter what was going on Micah had a punch line.  It was Micah who rallied around me while I was at my worst.  Coming home, after chemo feeling miserable and sick and exhausted it was Micah who would crawl in bed next to me,  bringing  me Ginger Ale and crackers while  flashing me his sweet smile.  He'd watch TV on the bed, laughing, and rub my bald head. It was Micah again who wouldn’t dare accept anything less than the real me,  telling me I was beautiful.  I remember one afternoon in particular.  A friend had come over to check up on us. I had a wig on, something I had just started exploring. Micah causally made his way over to  the couch where I was sitting. Suddenly he reached over and pulled the wig off my head.  Completely happy with himself he said to me, “That’s better Mommy.” He sat by me the rest of the visit, again rubbing my bald head.  We all had a good laugh; I mean after all what do you do after that? Needless to say I never put the wig on again.

Life Lesson #83 ~ Brave hearts are bold not fearless. The truth is "fear is a reaction, courage is a decision." That's honestly a quote worth it's weight in gold. Pretty much when life has pretty much handed you enough a brave heart simply stands up, shakes off whatever the devil‘s trying to sell and pushes back. Psalm 27: 3 says, “Even if a whole army surrounds me, I will not be afraid; even if enemies attack me, I will still trust God.” That’s exactly what my little warriors did; they trusted God even when they were surrounded by fear, grief and uncertainty. See having a brave heart doesn’t mean you aren’t scared, it just proves when fear reveals itself to you, your courage can and will roar even louder. My boys, they are my champions even till this day. They remember and yes they still know how it all felt. Together they have given so much of themselves not only to me, but to so many others. In the years after cancer left her mark, my boys began mentoring other kiddos going through the same hell fire. When I was at my lowest, Joshua and Micah stood beside me, prayed with me, and loved me even when I was barely able to get out of bed. They too knew the sting, the awkwardness and discomfort of stranger's stares. Heartbreakingly they also felt the pain of being bullied because their mom was “different”. My boys, my precious brave hearts, stepped up to the fight with such courage. They wore pink as if it was the new black and together they reminded me I was stronger than anything cancer could throw at me. Joshua and Micah were my two, precious reasons to fight. They were my inspiration, literally my motivation and purpose for pulling myself out of bed every morning. Joshua and Micah became warriors in their own right, slaying the beast at our door both to the left and the right of me. Together they conquered their fears and vanquished their demons all before the ages of ten and eight years old. Their brave hearts never gave up on me. What they taught me about being bold and brave I carry with me till this very day. As Rick Riordan (The Mark of Athena) so brilliantly says, “Being a hero doesn’t mean you’re invincible. It just means that you’re brave enough to stand up and do what’s needed.” Joshua and Micah, they are my heroes.

Now some ten years later I just want to say I'm so proud of how far we’ve come together, co-survivors and survivor alike. Turning the pages of our story, reminiscing, and realizing how many new chapters we’ve begun since 2006 is astounding. I look at our pictures from 2006 and I’m awe-struck by my boy’s strength and resilience. When I think back on our Disney World trip the summer of 2006 and now again in 2016 I realize the complete evolution and transformations in our journey. They were children, carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders with such boldness, bravery and audacious, valiant courage it blows my mind. And despite their fears, alarm or trepidation they rose up with brave hearts to become the men they are today. As their mama, I’m thankful for the grace and courage my boys have developed. They have proved true character. Together they've shown me even in the midst of adversity you can absolutely be refined beautifully by the fire.

Today I just want to say this to my beloved, lionhearted, gallant, brave heart-ed boys: I love you. I am so proud of you both, of how far you’ve come and where you’re headed. Never forget that babies. You are incredible, genuine, authentic real men of character. You have more than proven yourselves in battle.  Remember this, no matter where life takes you both, “YOURS IS A STORY so BRAVE and so TRUE and Life is awaiting the HERO in YOU.”

~Christina 

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