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Metastatic breast cancer can be devastating, more so in a young mom who wants to live for her children, who certainly need her to be around.
This article is inspired by my friend who is suffering from breast cancer.
She wanted to skip Mother’s Day this year. She wanted to disappear for this single day. She wanted to ignore all stuff related to Mother’s Day. I admit that she feels awful. She is angry at herself. She feels guilty. She feels sad. She is a mom and has metastatic breast cancer, the kind that kills.
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Being a mother, she should gladly participate in the annual honoring of moms. She should look forward to the gift packs and hampers. she should be excited at the thought of receiving handmade cards or the flowers or chocolates from her 8 and 6 year old kids.
But the very thought gives her shivers and suddenly she starts feeling tears rolling down. She feels like a helpless mother. She has never neglected kids or abused them but the mother inside her is in two minds and upset. She called me and said “My motherhood is plagued with cancer. Those who know me will probably vow to my brilliance as a mother. I think I can even get my kids to say that I am a good mom but in my heart I feel guilty and undeserving of this acknowledgment.”
“How do I tell my kids that their mother is about to break her promise and is leaving them alone to fight in this world”.
One of her favorite rituals of Mother’s Day has been the tray of breakfast in bed where her husband and kids become chef for the day. She does not want that tray of breakfast in bed. After chemotherapy and spells of vomiting as she sits on the bed, she will start feeling nauseated after barely eating a quarter of it and honestly, nausea does not trigger pretty memories. She doesn’t want to face the questioning eyes of her kids. She doesn’t want her kids to face the complexities of her disease and her pain.
The cancer is claiming the strength, hope and courage in her each passing day. She is still trying to find a way to live peacefully knowing that illness can no longer be cured. This mom, now officially has incurable cancer.
Most often people don’t fear death itself but it’s the suffering that is scary. When a mother suffers, a family suffers. She feels guilty for the suffering that her family may be destined for. But she doesn’t know how to protect them – the very basic job of a mother to shelter her young ones from suffering. How does she customize her parenting?
She understands deeply how important a good mother is, in building the self esteem of a child. She says, “I am their mirroring object, their moral support, their nurturing influence and their safe place. Motherhood as much joy as it entails, has also started to haunt me for I feel I am failing my children”.
Can I honestly promise my kids that I will keep their handmade cards forever? Can I keep up to the promise of watering the little plant that I and my daughter planted together? Is mummy lying to them? I keep battling with these thoughts.
I look at other moms with their pretty smiles and worries that don’t extend beyond “What’s for dinner?” or “What summer camp should I sign them up with?” with envy. I was one of them, two years ago. I also know that all mothers, with or without cancer, have at one point or another seriously doubted their skill as a parent, have gone off to a corner and muttered under their breath, “If only I had not birthed you!” in anger, have lost it when tired and have felt guilty going to work.”
Motherhood is an emotional journey, an experience that teaches you more than you ever wanted to know and learn. There is nothing comparable to the emotional growth it offers, when you put a ‘little’ person above and beyond all your own needs. Every mother can relate to the times she has held her pee, only to fix a sandwich for her hungry child to the point she has almost wet herself, or the time when she woke up at 3:00 am to check her child’s fever. I have experienced many such moments and feel lucky for those times.
My friend’s kids have been her strength in the fight against cancer. So perhaps, a celebration is in order with a healthy side of denial and hope. I really hope after reading this she feels bit happy and enjoys her motherhood.
Really, it’s a mother who can always put her kids first … Be it anytime, anyplace!
Published here earlier.
Image source: pixabay.
You have beautifully and astutely conveyed the poignant and painful emotions of a mother who has given and given without condition, offering her treasures happily to her family everyday. It is heart warming to know that you as a friend are feeling her pain as if it were your own. It is heart wrenching to read about her grappling with all the unknowns, the unfinished and unfulfilled plans she perhaps stares at everyday. Every emotion that she is feeling is 100% valid. I have been with a friend who has suffered breast cancer and has survived, yet the trauma is all the same -very real and present and forever uncertain. In life there is no certainty of anything for anyone. None of us are above or beyond this uncertainty. Miracles do happen more often than we are ready to believe but until they happen, we have no choice but to accept the way things seem to be turning out. But, we must gain strength and assurance in the knowledge that most often as mothers, we have always tried to do the very best we can. We surely cannot be expected to do any more than that. It must give us peace that each day while we could, we have done justice to our roles, and we have left a legacy of giving and sacrifice for our children to emulate and follow. They and the people’s lives we have touched, will carry forward this legacy and live in a way that they will offer their comfort and service to another to make another’s life better. This peace is what we must carry in our hearts always-knowing we did not live in vain and whenever we have to, we will leave this world, but as a better place. The journey never begins or ends with us… we continued someone else’s journey and another traveller will continue the journey where we leave off…
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