Today is my daughter’s fourth birthday. She is smart, creative, independent, and determined and reminds me of my mom. In a month, my son will turn two. He is funny, energetic, loving, and loud. He also reminds me of my mom. They fill my life with love and laughter and I couldn’t imagine my world without them.
My son completes our little family of four. He completes the family my husband and I decided to build and nurture together. The family we built, in part, around my fear of cancer. A fear that has so much power over me that I let it influence when we would have kids, how many kids we would have, and how I decided to nurture them.
My fear of cancer is understandable. I was an only child for the first ten years of my life. My parents divorced when I was a baby, and I had a fantastic, spoiled childhood with my mom. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in grade school. She fought hard all while spending her days accompanying my class on field trips, helping me with my craft experiments and baking Christmas cookies for all our friends and family. My mom beat cancer for a long time but was diagnosed with metastasized breast cancer when I was in high school. She died when I was 17 at the age of 49.
I felt alone. I lived alone from the time I was 17 until I rented a room to another university student when I was 20.
I have two wonderful half siblings on my father’s side. They reminded me that life was still good and to smile, laugh and be happy during that time. I have great family and friends that supported me and filled my life with joy. Still, with the loss of my best friend, my mom, I felt alone.
Fast-forward over ten years, now married, happy and excited about the future, remembering those feelings scared me for the future of my children. I have let my fear of one-day facing cancer assist me in making far too many happy life decisions.
I always wanted kids, but I refused to have less than two for the fear that one day, too soon, they would need each other to cope with a situation like I faced. We started trying to get pregnant soon after we married for the fear that my life would follow the same path as my mom’s. I stopped breastfeeding my daughter the moment she turned one so we could work on the planned pregnancy of our next child for the same fears. There were of course so many other love filled reasons that built our family, but it’s clear that my fear of cancer enters into my life far too often.
This November marks one full year of procrastination. I had planed that when my son finished breast feeding I would meet with my doctor and schedule my first mammogram and inquire about testing for the BRCA 2 gene. I have every excuse in the book as to why I haven’t yet but, the truth is, I’m scared.
With great support from family, friends and the Georgian Bay Cancer Support Centre, I’m starting my cancer prevention journey and bringing you along with me.
For my husband, beautiful kids, and to fight cancer’s ghost in an effort to eliminate it’s power over me, I will do as much as I can.