The First of Many

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.


4 Responses to The First of Many

  1. Patricia George says:

    Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Jeff says:

    Rachel, I just came across your blog today. Glad I did. As a former caregiver of a cancer (leukemia) patient, I can relate AND I look forward to learning from your insight. When my girlfriend at the time, and now wife found out about her leukemia, I was too young to understand it’s gifts. I only saw it’s curse – potential death, no children, early menopause, personality changes, and more. Today, almost 20 years after her diagnosis, the gifts have and still are showing themselves – life lived fully, 2 beautifully adopted children, almost 19 years of marriage with a creative sex life that is a “fun work” in progress (**middle finger** to menopause), and gratitude for our individuality. Thanks for sharing your journey. I look forward to catching up and reading along too. Peace!

    • Blackbirdsong says:

      Thank you Jeff. I’m so glad that you found blessings along with your cancer journey,. Sounds like you’ve got quite a story to tell yourself.

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