Celebrating With My Family This Mother’s Day

Celebrating With My Family This Mother’s Day

“In my room watching Netflix,
I did not expect what was coming.
When my mom walked in and said,

“Come here pumpkin, let’s talk.”
The hurt in her eyes was as loud as a tree falling.
She pulled me close and told me the news.
She said, “I have breast cancer.”

Tears overcrowded my eyes as fast as a flood
Thousands of scary thoughts clouded my head.
I was speechless.
In that moment, I felt numb.

My heart raced and my stomach dropped
like I was in a haunted house.
This time I was hurt by the cruelty of life.
She said, “Don’t worry. It will all be okay.”

This is the poem my daughter wrote about the day I told her I had cancer.  She was thirteen when she wrote this.  As a mother, her mother, when I read this poem I was stunned.  One of the things that felt so overwhelming about my diagnosis of cancer was having to tell my family, my children in particular.  How to communicate that while this is scary and will be a bumpy road, it is going to be all right in the end?  That I will fight it with every ounce of my body and every resource available to me?

That is where Sharsheret came in.  I had known about Sharsheret for ten years, as long as my sister-in-law, Shera Dubitsky, had worked there.  While we have talked about her work at Sharsheret over the years, I never thought I would need to reach out to her in a professional capacity.  When I first got the news that the doctors saw something in my MRI, my husband urged me to call Shera.  “Why?” I asked “This is going to be nothing.”  But I did need her and I did need Sharsheret.

Sharsheret provided me with support that I didn’t know I needed and resources that have helped me through the process.  I was given a peer to talk to about surgery options so that I could understand my choices from the perspective of a fellow patient.  The guide given to my husband about how to be a supportive spouse was very helpful for both of us.  Perhaps most importantly, Shera and I had many conversations about how to discuss this with all of my children, for my sons had questions, too. I love that Sharsheret recognizes that cancer affects everyone in the home, not just the person with the disease.

My mother had breast cancer in 1987.  She was single and living alone, and she faced her cancer and treatment very stoically with very little support.  She was tough, to be sure. I am her daughter, and I am tough, too.  It turns out that the experience can be less isolating and easier to bear with Sharsheret by one’s side.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I am standing here, cancer free, to celebrate with my family.  The end of my daughter’s poem is true: It will all be okay.