I thought I knew who I was before I heard the word “cancer.” My mother found a lump on her breast and because of her age, she had ignored it, wrongly thinking that it was impossible to receive a positive diagnosis in her seventies.
Cancer brought us a lesson that day. There is no such thing as too old, too young or too anything else. But that lesson was nothing compared to the months of lessons that followed. After the initial shock and fear had ebbed and I no longer had dreams where voices echoed, “My mother has cancer,” throughout, even as I walked around zombie-like trying to get through doctor appointments and surgeries beside her. I learned something else.
I learned that my mother’s angry grace was a blessing, and I learned that I had the strength to walk beside her, supporting her, nursing her and pushing her to continue through chemo and the loss her breasts, lymph nodes and hair. Cancer brought me the realization that I am a mighty force, that I too have angry grace. It brought me the realization that mighty forces can have weak moments where fear blackens everything like a shadow.
Cancer brought me the truth beyond made-for-TV-movies and platitudes.
Cancer brought me the realization of my own depth, that I am both weak and strong in my role as caregiver. Cancer brought me humanity.