Being diagnosed with cancer was debilitating in itself… but when it continued to come back after I thought I had conquered it, sometimes, the only thing that kept me fighting was a five-year-old boy who called me momma.
I was 21 years old when I was diagnosed with Stage IV Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My boyfriend at the time (now my husband) and I had a three-year-old son, Jonathan. The cancer recurred after six months in remission. Then, I had an autologous stem cell transplant. On my one-year scan, the cancer was back. Lastly, (third time’s a charm!) I had an allogeneic stem cell transplant from a non-related donor. Recently, I reached my 2 ½ years in remission and ran my first marathon in Paris, France through Team in Training.
People often ask, "How did you talk to your son about it?" He was three when I received my diagnosis and six when I finished treatments. The word cancer was just as common in our house as the word ice cream. When his classmates questioned why I didn’t have hair, he wondered why this was even a question.. Nonchalantly, he would say, "She has cancer." I was his blue eyed, bald and tall momma. When my hair began growing back, it was similar to peach fuzz. Jonathan rubbed the top of my head and said, "Oh, momma, you need to get a haircut." Communication and understanding came naturally. We didn’t make cancer out to be a big scary thing so as a result, our son wasn’t scared. Little did I know that by doing this, I was helping myself more than we helped him. He was my reassurance, my strength, my laughter, my determination, and my cuddle Bunnie (our endearing nickname for him) at a moment’s notice.
In good times and bad, he reminded us that a prayer was all we needed. When my husband’s fingertips would hurt to the touch due to blood cell growth injections, my son’s sweet pat on my chest and kiss on the cheek made the pain subside. Jonathan sang "Just dance, it’s gonna be okay," frequently. Sometimes that was the only thing that made me believe it really was going to be okay. I can never give him back the hours his little body waited in waiting rooms and the countless nights he had sleepovers in the hospital. However, I can give him many more years of his momma. I wouldn’t have fought as hard and I wouldn’t have a goal worth living for – being there when he gets married. God gave me the greatest gift of all, my husband. Together they, God and my husband, gave me the biggest blessing to date, our son. They are the reason I am alive today.
If you would like to take time to honor a mother, like Candice, in your life please consider making a donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society this Mother's Day.
Make a donationonline and a letter of recognition of your gift will be sent to the mother you are honoring with your donation. You are also welcome to mail in a donation to: LLS, Attn: Mother's Day, 8111 LBJ Fwy., Ste 425, Dallas, TX 75251.
Thank you and Happy Mother's Day from the North Texas Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.