Mom to two little ones and mom.me contributor, Meredith C. Carroll will be sharing her experiences of her recent breast cancer diagnosis, imminent treatments and day-to-day living with the big "c" here on Mom's the Word. Please join us in supporting Meredith and wishing for the easiest path through this challenging journey she and her family are facing.
you want to feel good about yourself, walk into a cancer treatment center.
week my husband and I drove over 400 miles round trip in a single day
to meet with a breast surgeon and medical oncologist at one of Colorado’s top
hospitals. We were in good spirits in the car both ways—mostly because
our kids were not with us, which meant no snacks had to be packed, there was no
whining, retrieval of crayons, toys, stuffed animals, water bottles, iPods and
wrappers; and no answering the burning questions as can only be posed by a 2-
or 5-year-old (“What does g-t-r-k-p-b-q-t spell?” “Nothing.” “No! I know it spells something. You’re just tricking me! You’re just being mean!”)
doctors and nurses with whom we met all answered the question I posed to each
of them in the exact same way:
I have to be here, I’m here under the best possible circumstances, right?”
they all replied.
weave your way down the sterile passageways and pass by patients whose faces
are obscured by surgical masks, those with oxygen tanks accompanying them like
an extra limb and others with bald heads whose luster rival that of the freshly
mopped floors. When you know that in all probability you are expected to be as
close to cured as possible at the end of your journey down the same hallways,
you get quiet—and thankful—really
A year ago this
month one of my best friends lost her 17-month-old son suddenly and
unexpectedly. Max was older by four weeks, to the day, than my younger daughter, and
his loss affected me profoundly—and not just in the way that my soul
hemorrhaged for his family. It made me rethink entirely how I’m parenting my
The strange part for me right now is feeling appreciativeness for my own diagnosis.
To live every day as if it might be the last for you or a loved one is not plausible, or at least not for very long. But borrowing the rose-colored lens of someone else who has experienced tragedy or heartache and taking a peek through it allows you to linger longer, kiss more frequently, hug tighter, listen better and speak with more purpose. Really, mostly, just because you can. Your appreciation for what you have and who you love deepens as you realize there are others who would give everything for even a fraction of your opportunities for emotional expression and physical touch.
In 2013 I also
watched as a childhood friend lost her battle to melanoma, and I have been
watching a dear friend fight tooth and nail against Stage 4 breast cancer.
I know what it’s
like to get news that changes the color of the sky in your world—like
when in 1999 my dad told me he had prostate cancer, or when I finally realized I
would have a baby of my own after suffering three miscarriages. When the
possibility of deep loss is dangled in front of you, you take stock of what you
have with even more gratitude.
It’s not uncommon
for me to lie down at night and acknowledge my thankfulness for the
health of my loved ones; I never want the day to come when one of them
is missing and I kick myself for not appreciating what and who I had, when I had
it and them.
The strange part for
me right now is feeling appreciativeness for my own diagnosis. As benign as it
might be in comparison to others, it’s still malignant. I sat in synagogue on
Friday night as the year anniversary of Max’s passing was commemorated and
during a silent prayer, I found myself easing into a prayer for my own health. It
dawned on me that it might have been the first time I’ve ever actually prayed
for me. It felt oddly selfish, except
when I realize that my goal is to continue to do my part to ensure my
children’s happiness and well-being for as long as possible.
Enjoying long car
trips without my kids is only possible because I know how painful it is with
them. And that they’ll be back in their car seats the next time we go somewhere.
life changed forever the moment my biopsy results were delivered to me. But what
I’m learning on a PhD kind of level—besides how willing other women are to show you their boobs if you
just ask nicely—is that having perspective when you least need it makes you
much more able to draw from it when you need it most.