Before 2014, I knew little about breast cancer. Though most people I knew had someone in their life touched by breast cancer, my awareness of the disease did not go far beyond the pink ribbons or the occasional dollar donated in the checkout line. Until May 2014. The week after my youngest sibling graduated high school, my mom called to tell us she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Multiple surgeries were followed by months of chemo therapy. During that season of her life, my family watched, prayed, and tried to be as supportive as possible as my mom fought with everything that she had. We knew she was fighting not just for herself, but for us. And in the last year, I haven’t yet thanked her for it. I would love to share with you a letter to my mom during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as a thank you to her, and an acknowledgement to everyone who is fighting this battle.
It has been over a year since your diagnosis and almost a year since your last chemo treatment. In that time, your hair has grown back, you have gotten stronger, and I have watched you do many of the things that you love. I’ve watched you work outside, direct the church choir, and take Lyla (my daughter) fishing for her first time. I know you have enjoyed and have been thankful to have all of those experiences, but I also know you didn’t choose to fight breast cancer simply for your own earthly enjoyment. You fought because your husband and children (“grown up” as we may all be) still needed you. You fought because Lyla loves her Gram to the moon and back (and just a little bit more)!
For that, 1,000 times, I thank you. Thank you for being poked and prodded so that you could be here for the announcement of my second pregnancy. Thank you for going to chemo over and over again, knowing it would only feel worse the next time, so that you would be able to watch your grandchildren grow. Thank you for waking up early for surgeries so that we can have more birthdays, Thanksgivings, and Christmases together. I will never know exactly what your personal journey was like, or what thoughts occupied your mind when you woke up feeling sick and tired, but I will always be grateful to you for enduring it all for us.
This time last year, you were fighting one of your toughest battles. You were wearing hats, scarves, and, pink (which is, admittedly, a big stretch for your personal preferences). The chemo made your bones ache. You were sick. You were tired, yet you maintained a positive outlook. From the beginning of your journey, you labeled your cancer as “just a lump in the road”, and were able to use this gigantic obstacle as a way to live out your faith. Though as you were walking through it, you had no idea what the outcome would be, you believed and professed that God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good.
Thank you for not only fighting and surviving, but for showing our family, friends, (and most of our small town) what it looks like to do so with faith and hope that can only come through knowing God. I will always be #TeamJennifer, and you will always be my hero. I’m so grateful to have you here for me to tell you.
I love you, Mom.