I remember it well, when my mom picked me up at work just after I received the phone call that I had breast cancer. I walked to my car, my mom in the drivers seat. My head hung. My tears frozen to my cheeks. My feet moving forward but yet my entire chest felt like it weighed a million pounds. I opened the door and looked my mom in the eyes. Her eyes frozen with fear. With the unknown. I kept my head hung and I began to weep.
The most paralyzing of fear I am certain brings one to tears. If you have ever watched in movies, tragedies, in times of war…. it is when the tears fall that you know things are at the worst. The paralyzing reality that we can do nothing about what is about to meet us. It is the unknown that brings us to cry.
My mom and I in our grief began to talk and share (much of which I do not remember) But I will never forget the one thing she said in the midst of tears…
“It should be me. It should be me.”
The display of a mother’s ultimate affection and love, in five words.
It should have been me.
That is what moms do. They want to take on the pain. They would if they could. And in that moment I knew not only would my mom take my cancer if she could but she felt as though she should. I know she felt as though the diagnosis should have come for her, not her daughter, not her twenty six year old daughter.
To fully understand it, my mom and I both share the BRCA 2 mutation that places us at high risk for breast cancer. Statistically we were told we are more likely to have breast cancer than not in our lifetime (60-80% chance). But for my mom she has never been diagnosed.
It was me, who just a month after learning of carrying the genetic mutation, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I write this today, on Mother’s Day to let my mom know that while I know you feel like “it should have been you”. I want you to know that it shouldn’t. It was me that was diagnosed with breast cancer and the role of mother alongside a sick child is a far greater role, harder role, more incredible role that you could have played, than being the one who was sick.
Did you read that correctly?
You being the one who researched the best plastic surgeons in town, who called for a second opinion on my results, who helped me change my clothes when I was in recovery, who woke me up every three hours to make sure I had pain medicine, who helped me to the restroom, who flew out to Denver to be with me for each round of chemotherapy, who wiped my tears, who took me to buy a wig, who cleaned my house, who made meals, who drove me to work and who always reminded me that I was not alone.
That is the role you were made for. That is the role you play so well. And that is why I am on the other side of this cancer free.
So it should have never been you. It was supposed to be me. And you were always to be the mother at my side. Loving me so very well.
Happy mothers day mom. May you never say again that it should have been you. May you believe that you are and exactly how you should be. A mother who graciously watched her daughter battle breast cancer and loved me in the midst.