Mom & Cancer & me
Updated: Jun 13, 2018
This is my story about love, loss, and resilience. My intention is to create a tribe of amazing individuals who can share their stories and triumphs, to receive love, support, and assistance in shifting their mindsets for a better life.
There is no denying that my mom and I shared an unshakable bond and love.
An unconditional, unwavering, and never-ending love.
Love is what has made me who I am, and love has brought me to this point in my life, introducing my story to you.
I am not a writer, I am not a blogger, and I'm an OK storyteller. What I am is passionate, passionate about helping others overcome challenges; discover barriers and blocks, and to help them let go of the old stories that is no longer serving them. All of that comes from a place of love.
Life loves me, and I love life.
My mom and I shared a special bond. A closeness that was clear to see since I was a young child. I admired her. She was my best friend, my confidant, and my heart and soul.
She was a ray of sunshine, a pillar of strength, and the true definition of dignity, class, and grace.
She was love. Full of love for everyone she met, whether she knew you for long or just a short period of time, she loved you and you felt it.
She had endured quite a bit in her life and never allowed that to define who she was as a person. Helping others was her life’s purpose, even when cancer came knocking at her door.
We received the phone call on an afternoon of March 2010. She had been feeling discomfort and constant bloating for a few weeks. This wasn't normal for my mom... She was very healthy and saw her doctor every 6 months for checkups. So with a little bit of anxiety, she went in for a pelvic exam, scan, and blood test. A couple of days later the most devastating phone call came in and the voice on the other side said, “I am sorry to inform you but you have stage III ovarian cancer.”
WHAT? Stage III ovarian cancer? How is that even possible? She was just seen by her gynecologist and they said she had a small cyst on her ovaries and nothing to be alarmed about. How is this stage III ovarian cancer now?
Side note… ovarian cancer is referred to as the silent killer, as there are very subtle or nonexistent symptoms until the later stages of the disease.
I grabbed the phone from my mom as she was in numbing shock. My focus was on “what’s next? What are our options?” because at this point my role as a daughter changed and became a caregiver, a healer, and in a sense from a daughter to a mother.
As I hang up the phone and look at my parents, especially my mom, with tears in my eyes, fear on my mind, and a heart that was ready to explode from the painful thought of “my mom has cancer. I can’t lose her, she can’t die.” I sat in front of her and as we were all crying I promised her that I will do my best to care for her as we walked through this journey.
In a moment of absolute despair and heartache...when I needed the comfort of my mom as any child has ever wanted and needed during heartbreaking moments, I found myself needing to muster up the strength, and unconditional love for her.
I needed to be her ‘mom’ at that moment.
She had and will forever be the most amazing mother to my brother and me, so there was no doubt in my mind that I would give my all for a woman that had given her all to her children. After all, she was the one who had just received the diagnosis of ovarian cancer and had to emotionally, and mentally digest that her body is now at war with itself.
I held her tight and promised her I will be her rock, her shoulder to cry on, her daughter, her mother, and her best friend. I would pick her up when she felt low, I would nurture her back to health when her body was weak. I would learn with her, grow with her, laugh with her, dance with her, and be nothing but love for her.
We have the duty of picking someone up when they fall from grace. When their heart is so broken that they can’t seem to catch their breath and face reality, we carry them until their heart is strong enough again. You must become a brighter light to shine down on their path because they are going through a really brutal human experience.
I must say, It didn’t take her long at all to get herself back up and stand even stronger than ever and say “I will beat cancer, I will beat it for you and your brother” (She did, she beat cancer 3 times throughout the 5 years.) Tears run down my face now typing this as they did in that moment looking at this pillar of strength who was my mom, thinking what would I do if I ever lost her. I wouldn’t know how to survive without her love. I quickly erased those thoughts from my mind and we started on the long journey of cancer. That journey came to an end as we lost our warrior.
My worst nightmare was now standing in front of me and I wanted to crumble. My heart was broken into millions of pieces. I wasn’t sure how I could go on without her. I had once said that if my mom ever died I would be in a mental institution because I wouldn’t be able to handle the heartache.
Somehow, I felt this strength inside of me, and this knowing that my mom would want me to focus on healing and helping others when capable and ready. I knew the journey ahead was not going to be easy, but I was/am determined to lived on her legacy.
The journey to healing started. And I turned within to find my own strength. I’ve always known my own strength but this took a different type of strength, this took guts and glory. This took warrior resilience. This took some serious superglue to put the shattered heart of mine back together.
I became very aware of my own narrative (self-talk) and my mindset. Because at this point, either my mind was going to be my best friend or worst enemy. After all, I had lost my best friend and confidant who was my sounding board... so now I had to learn how to be my own sounding board and monitor my own narrative that could've kept me in the depressive state of grief.
Note, this work still continues and will for the rest of my life. Which is normal and important for many reasons.
I think it is very important to talk about the love, and support I received throughout the entire journey. The love from friends, family, and even strangers was tremendous and I could feel it slowly, helping me glue my shattered heart back together. It gave me a reason to put one foot in front of the other and to stay in the present moment each and every day. I could never thank those around me enough for their endless love.
Love is what helped me walk through the grieving process one step at a time. Love is what allowed me to support my brother and my dad as they were experiencing their own grief. Love is what allowed me to laugh when I didn’t feel like laughing. Love is also what allowed me to cry the ugly cry in presence of loved ones, and in my own private time. Love is what gave, and still gives me the strength to continue to work with my own clients as an MFT and empowerment coach.
I want to pause from my story and thank you for letting me share it with you. There is so much more to this story and I will share it with you someday soon as I am writing a book with the same title of this blog.
I chose to tell you this part of my life story for many reasons…
It defines me as a person today.
It shattered me.
It healed me.
It made me stronger than I ever thought I could be.
It showed me the meaning of resilience over and over again.
It showed me the true meaning of unconditional love.
Cancer and any other tragic events aren’t discussed freely because we live in fear of “how will everyone else react?”
I want my story to show you that you too are capable of overcoming tremendous obstacles.
I choose to find joy and happiness in my daily life despite having gone through very tragic events in my life. Losing my mom to cancer is still devastating. I choose to experience the debilitating stages of grief and sadness; I choose to learn how to live without the person that was my anchor, and my backbone. Nothing about it is/was easy, but it is doable.
Love is the reason why I finally decided that I want to shift from a practicing Marriage and Family Therapist to an Empowerment Coach because I want to share my story with the world. Having this urge and desire to connect with as many people as possible, promoting self-love, self-acceptance, and learning to live out our dream lives, unapologetically.
I want you to know that it does get better. I want you to know that you are so much more than your old stories. And lastly, it’s time to drop off the heavy baggage(s) we have been carrying around for so long and start living a meaningful life that we have always dreamt of.
Don’t judge your circumstances so quickly. Yes, they might feel horrible right at this moment and you may think that you have no idea or even enough strength to overcome this situation.
PAUSE. You got this!
You! You are so powerful, capable, and supported. You are resilient. You may not remember all the times you have been knocked down and gotten back up, but you have.
To be continued...
You are love,