When I found out I was pregnant, my Mom found out she had endometrial cancer. I was a first-time mom full of hope and surprise. I was also full of anxiety and fear of the unknown. I’m going to be a mom?! My pregnancy announcement was surreal. My own mom’s diagnosis propelled the anxiety and fear over the surprise and hope. My brain flooded with questions. “Why does this happen to me?” “I’ve already lost my father, aunt, and three grandparents. Is my mom next?” I was swirling down the spiral of the unknown, and it was petrifying.
Mom’s full hysterectomy was scheduled on the same day that I was scheduled to have a gynecological procedure. I was ready for life to stop throwing curveballs. As the date neared, again, the questions of “Why me?” took over my brain. “Why did I need to have this procedure done that could harm my growing baby?” “Why is this happening to my mom?” It is so easy to slip into the dark “Me, Me, Me” mentality when fear rears its ugly head. It is so much harder to focus on the light. The light of the present moment. In this moment, my mom was here with me. In this moment, the doctor thinks the surgery will remove all of the cancer.
On the day of my mom’s surgery, I picked her up early in the morning. As usual, she put on a happy face and acted quite chipper. Yet, I knew she was scared. She was about to walk into the unknown. Physically, I was walking beside her, but this was her journey. As much as I desperately wanted to be with her, this was a walk she could only take.
My mom’s surgery was over before I had to leave for my procedure. The doctor said everything went well. There were no visual signs of cancer outside of her uterus. The doctor removed a couple of lymph nodes to send off for testing. If those nodes came back cancer-free, we could be confident that all of the cancer was removed.
Thankfully, my mom’s recovery went incredibly well. I was reminded of how strong my mom is. Women are so astounding. Our bodies adapt, expanding and retracting when necessary. Our bodies can grow other humans. Our bodies can also grow cancer. The woman’s body doesn’t need permission to do either one of these things. The body just does. It is part of being alive. We don’t know if the pregnancy will thrive, who our children will become, or if we will live to see our grandchildren. But the strength of women is rooted in our ability to walk into the unknown. We do it every day. It is scary as hell, but also full of surprise and hope.
A couple of weeks later, my mom received the biopsy results. She called to tell me that she was cancer-free. Relief flooded over my brain and body. I remember sleeping for hours after she told me. First-trimester fatigue and the fatigue of our combined ordeal pushed my body into a long, long rest. When I awoke, I was able to feel gratitude for the present moment that I wished I’d sustained during my recent roller coaster of the unknown. But, life doesn’t really work that way, does it? We begrudgingly move through experiences we feel ill-equipped to manage. Ironically, we only learn how to really manage them once we’ve moved through them. We take those lessons with us to our next roller coaster in life. Hopefully, we remember to implement the lessons, but often we just do the best we can. I want to teach my child the incredible strength of doing the best you can, I want to teach them how to walk into the unknown one step at a time. My heart is full of gratitude that I will not be my child’s teacher. They will be surrounded by those, including my mom, who will role model this walk.