As a parent you never want to see harm to any of your children, that goes the same for injury or illness. My parents have seen it all through the years. Their three children have been in casts, on crutches, and in surgery. My younger brother, being the most accident prone of us all, has had it all since he was a toddler. As adult children, my parents (like every parent) still worry about our well-being.
Their hearts shattered with my diagnosis of breast cancer in 2012. Devastation struck even harder when my sister’s diagnosis came a year later. Both daughters were fighting a disease that was all too familiar in the family.
I remember seeing the first hint of pain in my parents’ eyes. They came up for my daughter’s birthday two days after I was told I had suspicious calcifications. No matter how brave I was being, or how nonchalant I acted about what was going on, they knew I was about ready to wage war against this thing called cancer. The pain continued through my year long journey until my last reconstruction surgery. That’s when I saw a glimpse of hope. Hope that this is the end. Hope that it will not come back. Hope for a great future for their daughter.
Not even a year since my last surgery, seven months to be exact, I saw my parents pain come back. It was worse than the first time. Now their eldest daughter was diagnosed with lobular cancer Stage 0. Their devastation increased two-fold just two months later when that Stage 0 diagnosis quickly turned to Stage 3, a diagnosis that was more severe than anyone else in our family had ever experienced.
How do you deal with not one, but both your daughters diagnosed with breast cancer? I wasn’t even sure how my parents managed it all as well as they did. One late night phone call, I asked my parents that question. Their response, “Not easily, but with prayer, lots of tears, and outside support. We were proactive in the experience; you need to accept it and move on by thinking positively.” Now, my mother, with my diagnosis started to blame herself. She knows she is not the cause of the cancer, but she still feels she gave it to us. After experiencing her own cancer diagnoses through the years she lives with a continual fear, “It just never ends. You try not to think about the fear. I have the same fear for myself as I do for you girls. I’m afraid of not being here, of the cancer coming back, of those precious granddaughters future. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee in life.”
Being diagnosed with breast cancer twice, my mom has shown much strength during those times. My dad has as well. They both realize modern medicine has improved since my mom’s last diagnosis and treatments, nine years ago, but it never takes that fear away. I give my parents a ton of credit throughout the last two years. They have shown us their strength and amazing support. These are life traits that, I too, plan on possessing and passing down to my daughter.
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