When I first opened my boutique, a woman came in with two little boys. They were running all throughout the store, in and out of clothing racks, and in between the “Don’t touch anything” and “Come here right now!” she kept apologizing. As a mom of three kids, I get it. It’s almost impossible to get out of the house, and Heaven forbid you actually want to check out a new boutique down the street.
We chatted. We became friends. And when she came in months later, with the news she had been diagnosed with cancer, we both cried. Hers was the first fundraiser I held in my little store.
Over the past seven years, I’ve done my share of cancer-related fundraisers. I’ve met customers who became friends. All diagnosed with cancer. Different forms. Different levels and stages. So suffice to say, the word isn’t foreign to me. I know what it is, what it does, and how it impacts not just the woman, but the family as well.
But… when your mom tells you, “I’ve got breast cancer,” something happens within you. It’s a crushing blow to the heart. It’s a weight that you cannot lift. For her, or yourself. It’s a pain so great, because you know...you know what is to come.
I sat with her during the consult. The surgeon explained where it was, how they’d go about removing it, the next steps – diagrams were shown. And I watched my mom’s face change from acknowledgement to realization that she was the one being talked to. It was her. It was her cancer.
When the meeting was over, she stood up, shook the doctor’s hand and smiled. “It’s okay” She said. They caught it early. There was a 95% survival rate. All good stuff. But I know my mom. I knew what she was thinking. She had cancer.
Here’s a little background on mom. For so long, she has taken care of everyone she’s ever loved; my great-grandmother, when she was put into a nursing home. I remember going to visit her every day. My brother and I would walk in and all the elderlies would smile from their wheelchairs, and try to touch our hands. I never understood it back then, but seeing my grandparents in a nursing home, I got it; Human touch. Interaction. They so desperately needed it.
My mom took care of my grandparents as they became frail and long after they could take care of themselves. She took the 40 minute drive to see them; first my grandfather for 5 years while he was in the nursing home, sometimes 2-3 times a day. And then my grandmother; my mom never left her side for the 3 months my grandmother was taken in after a horrible fall.
My mom raised my brother and me, and took care of us so perfectly, that I sometimes wonder if I can ever measure up as a mom, to my children.
She’s always taken care of everyone, made everything ok. Always.
And now it’s not okay. My mom has cancer.
Over the past few weeks, my mom has been so strong. I don’t know why I’m so surprised by this – I mean, she’s had to be strong her whole life. She was strong for me when I finally admitted to her and my dad, that I had been abused by my college boyfriend. She was strong for me during and after the trial. She continues to be my strength, my leaning post, my sounding board – my very best of friends, and a woman I have mad respect for.
She’s been strong for so long, I don’t think she knows any other way –
So as she prepares for her surgery, radiation and all that follows – I want her to know, “We got you.” All of us. Dad, Eddie, our entire family – we got you.
Whatever you need during this time –
You wanna cry? Go ahead. You wanna get mad? Do it. You feel like throwing a plate and smashing it on the floor – I’ll get it down from the cabinet for you.
You don’t have to be strong for us. To spare our feelings. We got you.
And when you beat this, which you undoubtedly will, we will be there to celebrate. We will be there for you, as you’ve been there for us, all of our lives.
You got this.