Today is a very special day for my family…
We are celebrating the TEN YEAR anniversary of my mother being breast cancer FREE!! So, to commemorate the occasion and because I love my mom, I thought I’d share a little bit of her story and how it affected me then and now.
I want to preface by saying that my mom does not live in the past. This is in no way a rehash of how difficult life was back then. It is a reflection of a time in our lives when God received glory through her cancer experience. In a convo I had with my mom this morning, she described today as her “Thanksgiving Day”. Alright, here we go…
It’s amazing to me what the brain chooses to remember, and what it chooses to let go. I don’t remember everything. The “day in and day out” of this time in our lives has left me. BUT I do remember specific moments and vivid pictures that will always stay with me. With my mom’s blessing, I’d like to share those memories with you.
- I remember how I found out. I came home from school, to an empty house and listened to the answering machine. A family member, who had heard the news before me, had left a tearful message for my mom. I, in no way, have ever (even back then) held this against them, but it was a less than ideal way to hear the news. I remember dropping on the kitchen floor, sobbing and crying out to God the question so many of us ask, “why?”
- I remember my mom getting sick of losing chunks of hair and made the decision to shave her head. I remember the hair dresser coming over to the house and shaving it in my mom’s bathroom.
- I remember going to the wig shop and looking at wigs.
- I remember painting my mom’s head like an easter egg. We were on our way to a family function (Easter) and my mom wanted to reveal her new “do” to the family in a fun and lighthearted way. I remember my aunts’ tearful laughs. I remember my mom taking a picture with my bald uncle.
- I also remember painting her head like a cracked egg, with me and my sister wearing bald caps, also looking like cracked eggs. All for a cancer walk with church friends.
- I remember walking into the den and seeing my parents cuddling on the couch. I remember this because my parents were never huge on PDA, so I knew it was a moment my mom was having a hard time.
- I remember the room where my mom received chemo. I didn’t go with her as much as I should have (she would disapprove of me saying that! Ha) I remember she had to painfully receive chemo through the veins in her wrists, due to other complications.
- I remember her talking to other patients about Jesus. It wasn’t “the Komen efforts” that would save them eventually… It was Jesus, who already did. She wore a crown on her last day of chemo, and then passed it off to another patient.
- I remember her making the decision to remove one of her breasts. They attempted reconstructive surgery but her body rejected it. I remember that being a struggle. I know it still is.
- Lastly, I remember her telling me about her intimate conversation with God, telling Him she wasn’t ready, that she wasn’t done raising her girls. God told her we would be ok. That we knew Him, and He gave her peace.
“It wasn’t ‘the Komen efforts’ that would save them eventually… It was Jesus, who already did.”
That’s what I recall ten years ago today. Beauty and pain, uncertainty and peace, all mixed together. What a time. I’m so thankful for a God who is the SAME through all those different seasons… Praise God.
BUT, her journey doesn’t really end there…
You see, although the cancer may be gone, the rest of your life is spent on various medications, routine doctor visits, dealing with difficult scars or body changes. It doesn’t really just go away. Because of that, even ten years later, I’m still watching and learning from my mom. I have recently added a couple NEW memories that I will remember forever. Here they are….
- I remember watching my mom hold my daughter, her grand daughter, for the first time in the hospital. I know that God answered one of her prayers that day.
- I remember (and I haven’t even told my mom this) going clothes shopping with her and my sister. In particular, I was looking for post-baby bras. Although I adored breastfeeding, after I was done, I was left with next to nothing. Because of this, no bras fit me in the women’s department, so we jokingly (but not really) went into the pre-teen area so I could try bras on there. We were all kind of giggling about how silly it was, and the unfortunate fact that I really only filled out training bras now. My sister went around the corner, and I just looked at my mom and said how embarrassed I was and how nothing makes you feel more like a woman than wearing a bra made for 11 years olds. She replied “Believe me, I know”. Four little words that hit me like a ton of bricks. As I mentioned above, after removing her breast, these days finding shirts that fit properly and don’t show her scars are hard to find, and I know at times it frustrates her. Being aware of that, what she said in that moment centered me. It reminded me what aspects of womanhood really matter.
“I know that God answered one of her prayers that day.”
The next few sentences are really the point of this post:
My mom doesn’t like being associated with the “pink ribbon”. I’m not trying to say that all that stuff doesn’t matter, because it does… A LOT, but to her, what defines her is not Diana: Breast Cancer Survivor…
It’s Diana: Child of God, believer in the resurrection of Jesus, wife and mother of 2, grandmother of 1, follower of Christ through ALL things in life, in times of abundance and in need.
That’s MY mom.
She said this to me this morning, “If this was God’s chosen path for me, for the sole purpose of being bolder and sharing Him with strangers, then bring it on.”
To God be the Glory.