Three Women: Fearful, Daughter, and Angry

Cancer changes us, and often we find new parts of ourselves that help us accomplish new goals in the face of adversity and tragedy.

The breast cancer journey remains remarkable for its twists and turns— for the people, we meet along the way, and for the people, we become at those intersections where life meets cancer.

At diagnosis I was a woman afraid— driven by fear of death and dying before I could raise my child. She consumed my thoughts, and how she would live without me was constantly in the back of my mind. Fear of recurrence was my constant companion.

Then, five years after I was diagnosed, my mother was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. I was just at the brink of relaxing about my own diagnosis when I had to add our family genetics and its potential for ruining my daughter’s life.

When my mother was diagnosed, I became a daughter to a mother with cancer, forced to explore all the relationship issues and unfinished business that comes when a parent dies. How many daughters, I wondered, share their oncologist with their mother? How many daughters know with one look at a pathology report that their mother will die?

After my mother’s death I found that I had become an angry woman — a mother now determined to move people to action so my child would not suffer this fate. A Fearful woman, daughter woman, angry woman.

Of all the women I have become I like angry woman the most. Her clarity of purpose and power sometimes astounds me. Her focus is once again on her daughter, determined that she will not die of ignorance.

It’s harder sometimes to allow angry woman her power because she makes people uncomfortable. But I am finding that others like angry woman too— she is the one who gets things done.