How a Friend's Advice Helped Ease My Parenting Worries
Last updated: December 2022
When I was diagnosed with lung cancer, I thought to myself, “This is my worst nightmare.” It was August of 2018. My uncle had been diagnosed with lung cancer in the very same month back in 2001 and died before New Year’s. At the time in my mind, lung cancer was a death sentence.
Being there for my new family
I had just remarried three months prior to my diagnosis. I came into the marriage with my 11-year-old son, and Jason with his 7-year-old son. My worst nightmare. Leaving my new family. No, not my worst nightmare. My worst nightmare would be one of the boys having cancer. I was determined to do this. I would gladly take this on instead of having to deal with one of our kids having cancer.
Treatment side effects
The chemo and radiation had taken a toll on me by December. I was at my weakest. It was hard for me to even take a walk into the other room. I could hardly eat. My mental state was deteriorating. I had all the time in the world to sit and worry and cry and ponder about what was going to happen, and it wasn’t healthy for me. I was once again so worried about the boys… them growing up without me. I wouldn’t be there for their teenage heartbreaks, graduations, marriages, grandkids. I would never know what they would be like as adults. The feelings of despair encompassed me every minute of every day. My mind and body were not well. I finally resorted to the fact that I needed medical intervention for my mental well-being.
A friend's advice
My good friend stopped by the house on one of my worst days prior to being able to see the doctor and get a prescription for depression. We were talking (I was mostly crying) about everything going on in my head. I told her how all I could think about was the boys growing up without a mother. She stopped me and said something that flipped a switch in my brain. So bluntly delivered… most people would probably have been offended. To me, it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders.
“They don’t care that much. They don’t love you like you love them.”
Wait. What? I let it sink in for a moment. She was right. I thought back to how much I loved my parents when I was a kid. I loved them, but that kind of love is not a drop in the bucket compared to how much I love my kids.
A different view for parents and children
We are born into this world knowing that if life works out the way it should be, our parents will be gone before us. We are mentally prepared (for the most part) that this will happen. The death of a parent, while very sad, is the way it should be. It’s said that the death of a child is the most traumatizing event that can happen to a human being, and that makes sense because it is not supposed to happen that way. We are supposed to leave our children first.
I will always hold those harsh, albeit comforting, words of my friend close to me always. It makes me feel better to know that my kids will get through this. They will have heartbreaks, graduate (they better!), get married and they will have kids that don’t love them as much as their parents do.
What advice has helped you in your lung cancer journey? Share your story here.
Happy Lung Cancer Awareness Month! What does self-advocacy mean to you?