Cancer: Month One

One month.

On this very day one month ago, our lives changed forever. The doctor said the word no parent ever wants to hear. Cancer. It has been a month of terror, love, heartache and gratitude.

It’s hard to believe it has only been a month. My tired body and mind would disagree. It feels like we received the diagnosis years ago. I live in a state of exhaustion, holding my breath and knocking on every piece of wood I can find when I think of how well she is doing with this second round of chemo.

In just one short month, I forgot what normal is. I forgot what it’s like to run to the grocery store or get dressed up in something other than jeans and flip flops. I forgot what it’s like to curl up in my bed and feel my husband’s arms around me. I miss my life. I miss my family all together.

But in this short month where I’ve forgotten so much, I have also come to experience relentless love and support and have come to know what it feels like to be showered in support and wrapped in love and prayers. Every card, message, coffee, meal and prayer has been received with tremendous love. In a time where I feel so lost, you remind me how very loved I am and how loved my family is.

I still have trouble wrapping my head around it all. My daughter has cancer. It just isn’t right. However, my prayer is that we will soon say, “My daughter beat cancer.” Yes, that has a much better ring to it.

One month. Thirty-one days. So much has happened. My body and mind will take time to recover, but on this day I am rejuvenated with the love I feel and seeing my girl giggle and smile.

On this one month anniversary, I sit alone with my mom cooking in a quiet kitchen, both kids asleep and our Jacksonville family out to dinner.

The past month has been filled with a revolving door of my best friends from across the country. They have provided a much needed distraction and filled the air with old stories and laughter. Distraction and shock have helped me survive these past few months. And the numbness is beginning to wear off.

I am not afraid of the feelings that are surfacing, rather I embrace and welcome them with open arms. I have spent the last five years working to discover myself and get in touch with my feelings buried deep. Through countless hours on the couch and thousands of journal entries, I became a master at knowing what I was feeling and what I needed to process through each feeling.

Enter: Cancer. My feelings and emotions vanished. My head and heart knew the devastation I was feeling, but my body would not allow me to feel it. They call it shock and it has served me well. If not for shock, I would have been in fetal position under the vinyl hospital couch in those early days.

I had an opportunity to join my Jacksonville family for dinner tonight, but the thought of leaving my Marjorie made my anxiety skyrocket.My mom offered to stay and my sister-in-law did too, but it was too much. I contemplated all day. The more I thought about leaving, the more my anxiety grew. What if she spikes a fever? What if she can’t settle down? And on top of it all, the normalcy of going to dinner frightened me. I have not left my daughter’s side for a month, with the exception of a quick run in the neighborhood. And tonight I wasn’t ready.

I finally looked at Lara this afternoon and said I just couldn’t do it. She 100% supported my decision and in that moment I knew I was finally reconnecting my heart and head.

Marjorie needs me and I need her…and I need my Manning. A quiet night in with bed and bath routines was just what I needed. My life is far from normal, but in this moment everything is just right.

I’m not sure life will ever get back to normal. There will still be appointments and reminders that Marjorie has/had cancer. But that is okay. Our stories are not meant to be forgotten. They are meant to be lived and then told from the mountain tops.  And boy, does my Marjorie have one hell of a story to tell.

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