Pink is my favorite color. Especially in October, but this wasn’t always the case. 8 years ago, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The following months and year are, truthfully, a blur to me. I lived every day in fear. I am fortunate to have an extremely close relationship with my mom. She is my best friend. So, when she was diagnosed, naturally fear consumed our lives. I hated seeing her sick and wished I could take all her pain and worry away. There are many forms of breast cancer, and my mom had one of the rare ones. During her journey, I was consumed by every lab test and result that came in. I scoured the Internet for information. I read every website on every treatment and drug they gave her. In those moments, I often failed to step back and admire my mother’s strength and courage. Fortunately, my mom defied odds and is now a breast cancer survivor. It took me eight years, but I am now able to reflect back on that time and find good from our situation.
Unfortunately, cancer has touched so many of our lives and as many of you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. For the past eight years, when I would start to see the pink cancer ribbons come out, I cringed. It reminded me of my mother’s fight. It brought back memories of those fearful days. It scared me that it would come back.
For eight years, I worried and hated the pink. However, this year is different. As a mom to a three year old, I thought about how fortunate my daughter is to have my mom in her life. Although she is too young to understand what my mom went through, I want her to know that Grandma is a survivor. This year, I took time to reflect on our experience and share some of the lessons that my mom taught me; in hopes that it may reach one person who has or is battling cancer!
Live like you were dying. We’ve all heard this phrase one million times before. However, until you or a loved one are living it, the depth of its meaning isn’t clear. My mom worked in a factory job for her entire professional career. Although it paid the bills, it didn’t bring her happiness. After cancer, she quit. She now takes care of my children Monday-Thursday. My children are the luckiest kids in the world to have such an amazing Grandma taking care of them and I’ve never seen my mom happier! Ask yourself, are you doing what you love? If you aren’t, do it. It’s that simple.
Chose your attitude. When my mom lost her hair, she had two choices. She could mourn and long for her hair back or she could face reality and embrace it. I remember my mom pulling her wig off in the middle of a family Holiday celebration and making everyone laugh. At that moment, she was the most beautiful woman in the world to me!
You are beautiful. Illness can cripple and change the human body. Cancer left my mom with far too little sleep, more worry lines, and a deformed body (literally – she had a lumpectomy). What it can’t do is take away beauty. When I look at my mom, she is the image of self-confidence I hope to instill in my daughter.
Enjoy the simple things. There were moments when my mom was so sick and tired that the smallest things brought the biggest smiles. This world we live in is scary but there are so many simple joys in life. Every day, smile at the small things. Having been through this journey, I’ve seen a change in my mom. Although there are times when she still worries about things, she is happy. She gets pleasures out of the smallest things in this world. I’ve never seen someone smile as bright as she does when my own two children run to her and give her a giant hug.
You are stronger than you know. I watched my mom battle cancer with so much grace and courage. Although I’m sure she was afraid many times, she never let us see it. She is the strongest woman I know.
Every single day is a gift! I am so thankful to spend every moment that I can with my mom. I look up to her and I respect her. So as the October days pass by on the calendar, I am embracing pink. I no longer see pink and equate it with fear. I see pink and think of my mother’s bravery and strength. I will wear pink for her and everything she’s taught me.