Today’s guest contributor is Sonya Davis. Sonya writes about her experience as a breast cancer survivor, and as the child of a breast cancer survivor.
In some ways I think I’m lucky. I have a strong family history of cancer – on both sides of my family. I am the youngest person in my family to be diagnosed and the first of my generation of cousins, but the idea of cancer is not new to my family. My own mother was told that with her personal history, my sister and I had a 50/50 chance of getting cancer at some point in our life. I’m hoping that I took the bullett for my sister. While the diagnosis was shocking and disturbing, I can’t say it was surprising. And while the diagosis wasn”t surprising, there were some surprises I want to share.
Surprise 1 – The bills
I knew cancer was expensive, but I had no idea of the financial tail spin the bills would send me in to. It frustrates me to no end that I’m still making payments, 3 years after diagnosis. And I have fairly decent health insurance. I have no idea how people who don’t have insurance do it. After treatment, all you want to do is move on with your life, but that is pretty hard to do when you keep getting bills.
Surprise 2 – How much stronger I am now
Some tmes I look at things I do now and think “wow, i never would have done that 3 years ago”. The first time I realized this was the first time I danced in public without being under the influence of large quantities of alchol. And you know what? It feels great. I love the confidence and strength I now see in myself. I also love that I no longer sweat the small stuff like I used to.
Surprise 3 – the doctor visits never seem to end
Every time I turn around, it seems like I have another doctor appointment. It’s all for little stuff that always seems to turn out fine, but you never know. And then there is the question “Which doctor do I ask?” Fortunatly, both my oncologist and my primary care doctor always take me seriously, but I am getting tired of always having a question.
Three years out from diagnosis, this is where I’m at. This is me and all I can do is keep myself moving forward.
A child’s perspective of a parent’s cancer
One common theme I often hear from parents who have been diagnosed with cancer is they are worried about their kids. I don’t have kids, am not an expert on kids, but do have one thing in common with the kids – my mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was still a kid. And I always have one thing I want to share with parents: I’m ok. And your kids will be too.
Honestly, I don’t remember much about my mom’s cancer experience. I don’t know if it is because I shut it out or because I was wrapped up in my teenage self, like any normal 16-year-old. Probably the latter. I do know I was upset. I remember having to leave the house because my sister was playing “the wind beneath my wings” on the piano and I couldn’t listen to it. I remember my aunt pulling out her prosthesis to show me what it looked like. I remember when and why she decided not to do chemo. It’s part of my history, but it did not define who I am.
Were it not for my mom’s history, I probably wouldn’t have caught my own cancer when I did. I was not afraid I’d get cancer, but I was aware I could. Cancer did not occupy my thoughts the way it does now – I knew enough to be aware it could happen, but it was an after thought.
I very much hope that you ever have to hear that your child has cancer, but if you do know that your child’s journey will be different than yours, but you can provide support like no other. My mom never expects me to just move on. She understands the day to day fears. She never makes me feel like i’m over reacting. She encourages me to take my fears seriously and get things checked out. She’s my biggest support. She’s my hero.