Dear Gem – Month 30

by | Cancer, Seattle

The weather turned since the last time I wrote one of these letters to you. In just a couple months we went from temperatures in the 80s to frosty mornings and piles of multicolored leaves on the ground. You’ve changed so much, grown up so much, in that little bit of time.


You notice the change in the trees. You notice the weather. You notice so many things that just a couple months ago would have slipped right past you. I have to be a little more careful now. And watch my tongue. Not that I am the kind of person who would thoughtlessly say things in your presence that I wouldn’t want you to repeat. ahem.


The past few months have been pretty busy. Especially October. I’ve taken to calling it Pinktober, because breast cancer awareness month takes over everything, no matter what else we’ve got going on.

As if I wasn’t already all too aware of breast cancer.

I have a feeling that this is going to be a part of a new pattern in our lives, that we will need to learn to just brace ourselves for Pinktober every year. We’ll learn to let the wave of pink wash over us without dredging up too much trauma, while embracing the opportunities that come in at the same time. We need to remember that Pinktober is a time of reunion with those who have become close friends in this breast cancer battle, it’s also a time to celebrate life, and raise some money to help all those who will be diagnosed in the year ahead.


When I see myself in your mannerisms, the things you say, the way you turn a phrase, it reminds me that one of my most important tasks as your mother is to be a role model. And that responsibility has become a critical part of my decision making process.

Some people pay lipservice to the old WWJD: What Would Jesus Do? I take a different approach. When faced with a difficult decision, I ask WWIWGTD: What Would I Want Gem To Do? But I’m asking that question for real. I consider this question in all different aspects of my life from brushing my teeth even if I’m staying in bed all day, to how I interact with friends and strangers, to how I research and take a position on an issue, to how I react when people are cruel to me.


I don’t want to give the impression that I’m letting you make my decisions.  I need to make choices that are healthy for me, and I want you to learn to make decisions that are healthy for you.

The net result of all this is that I am living my life more mindfully because of you. I’m making more thoughtful decisions. I’m taking better care of my body. I now respond differently when people try to walk all over me, and while some may not like that change, I know it’s a change that needed to be made.


You inspire me to be a better person.

Thank you

I love you so much


You can learn more about my cancer story here:

my cancer story | Judy Schwartz Haley


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Judy Schwartz Haley


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