I’ve never actually written it down, the story of my Mom’s battle with breast cancer. For a few reasons I guess, but mainly because it isn’t really my story to tell. I wasn’t the one living in fear that the disease would win. I wasn’t the one hoping everyday that the medicine needed to kill the disease wouldn’t wreck havoc on my body and mind; questioning every decision that needed to be made. As an adult looking back, I’m sure all of those thoughts ran through her head and heart. My story of Mom’s battle is a bit different, one experienced not by an adult but of an adolescent girl still trying to find her place in the world.
Balancing parenting and illness
As much as my parents tried to shelter me from being touched by the disease I was certainly old enough to know what was going on. My parents never really say much, even to this day, when they aren’t feeling well or are “having tests”- I’m quite certain it is simply because they don’t want me to worry.
Chemo, radiation, and surgery
Mom went to her appointments, underwent chemo and radiation treatments, and surgery. She did it all with more bravery and courage than I could even imagine. She must have been terrified. She must have felt terrible. The thought of simply getting back to living her life must have weighed heavily on her heart every single day. But not once did she let the disease change the Mom she was to me. Not once did she say she was too tired if I needed something. Not once was she too sick to help if I needed it even though I’m sure she was exhausted beyond measure or so nauseous she could barely stand. She never let on. No matter how she felt, she always put being a mom over anything else. She allowed me to continue “life as usual” without a single complaint of the pain, or the sickness. She even continued to go to work. As an adult and mother myself now, I truly cannot imagine being so self-sacrificing, amidst such an enormous personal battle.
One of the strongest memories I have of my mom’s battle with cancer circles around nail polish. Strange? Perhaps. But for us, it was a sign of hope. After completing all the treatments and final scans were done, we were waiting for news that she was free to go back to living life. Some of you may know that for certain cancer treatments, you cannot have nail polish. In sitting together and painting our nails, as we waited for the news we chose hope. We chose to believe. We chose to be strong. It may seem small to some, but to me the simple act of hope for my Mom meant everything to me.
Inspiration in the breast cancer battle
And it worked. Mom’s tests came back clear and she was pronounced free.
You know, many people talk about how they “never want to be their mother” when they grow up and have kids of their own. For me, if I was half the Mom she is, I’d be doing pretty well. This is why, when I designed my first Cause for Change product on Simply Inspired Designs I chose the word Inspiration instead of some of the more common words associated with breast cancer. Daily, Mom continues to inspire me with her strength, love, patience, and dedication to our family. Reading this, she probably would have stopped me before I’d even gotten started (likely saying, “Oh, Leanne you shouldn’t have…”) as she doesn’t much care for attention. But she, along with all those touched by breast cancer, are an Inspiration.
Looking to inspire others in their breast cancer fight? Know someone that inspires you?
A portion of the proceeds from the shirt I designed to honor her and her story will be donated to those touched by breast cancer and can be found here. It comes in a variety of colors with a super-soft feel.
For my Mom, my Inspiration.