I had always wondered what you do when you leave the appointment where someone tells you, “You have cancer.” Something horrible must happen to your body immediately, right? Like, you probably just crumple up into a ball of anguish on the pavement outside the doctor’s office. Or you become so overwhelmed with the horror of the situation, you basically have to go straight to an ER to be assured you are still alive, right?
Well, on March 7, 2017, I found out.
You go home and take your shoes off in the back hallway.
You change the water in your kids’ humidifiers and turn the light on in their bathroom.
You put a new Paw Patrol on the television.
You change into pajamas and wash your face.
Because, first of all—you are Mommy. And Mommy has responsibilities and bedtime routines. And cancer. And she is going to probably completely freak out at some point, but first, Mommy refills humidifiers.
That night, I wait for the news to sink in. It sort of does, though it just skids off the surface of my brain. But already my body is in fight mode.
The adrenaline is pumping and my heart is wide awake in the darkness. And it does seem pretty dark. I want a light on all through the night—there are plenty of things to be scared of, and tonight, darkness doesn’t need to be one of them.
I wait to cry. I wait to freak out. Nothing happens. So I sleep. And when I do wake during the night, the light is there, and so is my husband, and my children peacefully slumbering down the hall, and the tiny one kicking inside me.
And I am okay. And I will be okay—because I am Mommy.
So. It is time to shake off the darkness and fight for what I love.
So, Mommy gets up and makes coffee and school lunches.
Mommy makes sure everyone’s shirts are tucked in and their hair is just so.
But, I am thinking about cancer.
I can’t help but think about the rogue cells that lay just beneath the skin of my neck, where those chubby little arms are wrapped tight in a goodbye hug.
I press my fingers on the swollen lymph nodes along my collarbone and decide not to even allow myself to wish they weren’t there. There is no point in that.
I have lymphoma. And something inside of me won’t allow me to give in to thoughts that give cancer the advantage.
I breathe deep and stand up tall with my head held high.
Nothing will stop me.
I made a promise to each of my children before they were even born. I told them I would love them, protect them, and nurture them with every shred of my being, forever and ever and ever. And last time I checked, forever was a very long way away.
I have a mountain to climb in the weeks and months ahead, and there is no room in my bag for desperation—I have packed faith, and strength, and determination.
I must keep the promises that will not—cannot—be broken.
And that is why losing this fight is not an option. Because, my heart may be pounding against my ribs, but it lives outside my body in the four little people I will tuck in each night. Nobody better even think about messing with me or a promise I have made. Because I am Mommy. And Mommy crushes cancer.