Dear Daughters: A Mother Reflects on How to Move Forward With Cancer

I am sorry that you spent the summer watching me empty my drains and wondering when the heck those giant tubes would be pulled from my leg. I know I did my best to use discretion, but you still saw and still knew this had to do with cancer.

Dear daughters,

There are a few things I want to make sure you know about me that I may not always be able to articulate to you, or you may not always be ready to hear. I am just doing my best, as I am today, determined to beat this cancer once and for all. It is exhausting being a working mother with three young, intelligent, sensitive and thriving, active girls. Throw a little cancer diagnosis into the mix, and I feel like I'm in the middle of a marathon that has no finish line.

I don't have any control with regard to my diagnosis and recovery. I am sorry that you spent the summer watching me empty my drains and wondering when the heck those giant tubes would be pulled from my leg. I know I did my best to use discretion, but you still saw and still knew this had to do with cancer. I am sorry my feet and my surfboard never touched the ocean. I'm sorry I cried behind closed doors. I'm guessing you sometimes heard me, usually in the wee hours before sunrise or long after sunset when you were supposed to be sound asleep.

The hardest part of this disease is the piece of me it takes from you (thanks to my anxiety before each set of scans) and the way I feel completely sucked dry after each trip down to Boston. I try, really I do. With each cancer-free cupcake I bring home after, I still am toast. I try so hard to celebrate each good doctors’ appointments I have, but I know you are still not completely at ease. Neither am I. I hate this disease.

I have taken time from you before cancer, with coaching my running training groups and my own running for whatever race is on the docket. Well, I will do so again, but I hope you will someday understand. Cancer takes away so much. It took away the very soul of who I've always associated myself with: strength, health and freedom. Over time and with recovery, you realize it also takes away your control of normalcy. So even when you start to feel normal, strong and free, you feel like you really have no control over your life regarding your health and your long-term goals. The truth is, you will never be free again.

If I was smart enough to be in the labs, at this point, I'd be driven to spending my days there working towards a cure so that I would have some security in knowing I would spend my nights with you forever. But I can only do what I can do. It takes some growth to learn how to let go and yet, it also takes growth to know when to hold them and gain control.

The next few months, I will be spending my spare time running around — literally and figuratively — raising money for cancer research at the hospital where I am under care, where my oncologist works to find a cure. I hope I will not be back for treatment and this cancer will not come back. I didn't have too many options when I was diagnosed last April at stage 3, but already since then, so many advances in treatment have come about. I hope I will never need them, but in the meantime, we will be running and raising funds. I love all three of you so much and you have such great gifts to give to the world. I hope you will understand when you are older that my driving force behind all this is you. I do this for you, this is my gift to you.

You can do whatever you set your mind to do, it just takes a lot of heart and some hard work.

"Don't believe me, just watch.”

Love,

Mom