We’ve all heard the saying, “Cancer isn’t a death sentence – it’s a life sentence!”
My mother said that very line no less than a thousand times growing up. She was diagnosed with breast cancer (36 years ago). At the time she was already pregnant with my older sister, who was diagnosed with breast cancer (11 years ago).
I never understood how she could be so happy. Everyone offered sympathy, but she told me she never needed it. As grateful as she was, her mind just wasn’t twisted by all the negative thinking that cancer usually causes.
Everything changed when my older sister tried to have a child. She was unable to conceive for a year — and then the dreaded early signs of breast cancer came.
At this point she thought about giving up; she always feared facing the same struggles that our mother went through.
But that age-old wisdom sparked once again. My mother literally forced her to re-think her decision to stop trying.
This is basically what our mother told her:
“I learned to cherish the things I know I love when I found out how scarce they were. It wasn’t until then I was happy. If I lived scared, I wouldn’t of had you or your sister. If I just gave up, there would’ve been nothing to live for.”I never thought of it that way. But it’s true: when someone learns nothing is permanent everything suddenly counts. So, in many ways, being a parent battling or surviving any stage of breast cancer can be rewarding.
However, there’s a difference between having stage 1 breast cancer and stage 4 breast cancer. There are serious risks that change the dynamics completely.
This is where things get difficult. My mother was at stage 2 breast cancer at her worst, and I can only imagine what goes through the head in the later stages.
Even so, I believe I have the best mother in the world. No matter what, she’s always there for me. The relationship I’ve had with her has only been better because I’ve seen her at her low, and she showed me what true strength is.