I’ve been reflecting on my cancer experience a lot lately. When I was first diagnosed, Miranda was only two years old. She was the apple of our eye — cuddly, sweet, funny, happy. She says she doesn’t remember much about that time. I’m glad for that. I would not want her to know the terror I felt at the prospect of not being around to watch her grow up and live her life. I’m glad she didn’t know the irrational guilt I felt that because of me, she would always have cancer in her life. It looked like we beat it that first time. It was just a season and we were able to move on with normal life.
But when the cancer came back almost exactly two years later, the terror and guilt came back with it. I was in treatment for most of the year before she started kindergarten. All I wanted was for her to have a mommy at parent teacher conferences and assemblies. For her, and for me. I went to every single one and hearing those sweet voices say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the Elmhurst School song brought tears to my eyes every time. Each time, I’d quietly ask God for just one more time.
Dance recitals, swim meets, soccer games, violin performances — please, God, just one more. Just let me see her get through elementary school. I would lay in bed and listen as Dave read to her at bedtime or listen to them laugh while they watched a movie. I’d see them lounging on the hammock as he told her the names of the birds in our yard. I knew he would take great care of her without me. They would be fine, but maybe, God, maybe I could see her through middle school. It can be such an awkward time. If I could just be here for that and to make sure she got off to a good start with high school. Please just let me get that far.
Well, now, she’s all done with high school and is starting college in the fall. I’m still here and Dave and I are happy and healthy. We don’t talk about the cancer much anymore. We will get to see her in her cap and gown, walking across the stage with her big, bright proud smile. We will pack up her stuff and get her all settled in her dorm room. And she will be just fine. And we will get to hear all about her new adventures. It almost seems like too much to ask for.
So I’ve been reflecting on my good fortune to have had the last 13 years cancer-free. The treatments I received were no doubt discovered in part with funds raised by the American Cancer Society. The treatments of countless friends who have also survived to see one more baseball game or piano recital were quite possibility funded with ACS dollars. And for the friends and family I’ve lost to this disease, the ACS is working to find cures so that their deaths weren’t in vain.
In my role as an ACS volunteer, I’ve seen first hand the good that come from Relay For Life. It is an amazingly beautiful life-affirming event that touches your soul in a different way each year.
I’m asking you to contribute what you can so that we con continue to find out more and one day put and end to this disease. Until we get there, let’s all do what we can to help another young mother watch her child grow up, or a young boy watch his daddy get healthy, or a parent watch her son beat cancer and get back on the baseball field, or a grandmother get to to go to her granddaughter’s wedding. We can help make a difference. Please give generously.
You can use this secure link: http://main.acsevents.org/goto/LindaJo
Note – I originally wrote this as part of my Relay For Life fundraising efforts. I debated whether or not to keep the “ask” in what I post here. I decided that I would. My primary intention in sharing this post, however, is to share my reflections on part of my experience as a cancer survivor and mother.