Life Goes On
by Sue Glader
Like most young mothers diagnosed with cancer, I had some pressing issues to deal with. Namely, my only child, Hans, who was 13 months old when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999 at age 33. I can say without reservation that Hans’ presence in my life was an absolute motivator for getting through treatment and getting on with life. I mean, I had mothering to do. I had a child to raise. Being laid out flat just wasn’t an option for a toddler raring to go go GO!
In all honesty, though, it also scared the heck out of me that I might not be there to watch him grow up. So I set myself on a course of health, promised him (and, in turn, myself) that I wasn’t going anywhere, and put one foot deliberately in front of the other. I soldiered through treatment. I continued to work as a freelance writer to keep a sense of normalcy. I also participated in a support group (which I would highly recommend to anyone) and therapy to help process what I was living through.
It’s common to hear cancer survivors say they want to DO something with their lives after diagnosis. There is an urgency. A motivation. We have been awoken from just living life to LIVING LIFE. Some jump into the arms of that emotion, joining any one of the numerous organizations that fundraise through athletic endeavors.
I turned to what I do well: words. Inspired by the interesting looks children gave me when I took Hans to the playground, I decided to write something that would explain a cancer diagnosis and the ensuing bald mama (or granny, auntie, friend, teacher) to youngsters. In truth, I wanted to transform the yucky from my experience into something beautiful. Something inspiring.
It’s common to hear cancer survivors say they want to DO something with their lives after diagnosis.
While attempting to inspire others, I have inspired myself. I have learned that I am capable of extraordinary things, and that inner strength can be awoken at the most trying times. I didn’t opt to overcome something physical (like walking for 60 miles), but chose a cerebral goal: believing in myself. Believing that I could learn the publishing business from scratch and create something out of nothing. Believing that what I have to say, and how I say it, can positively affect others. Believing that my experience of cancer could be turned inside out and made into something wonderful. Comforting. Uplifting.
I have also learned that while life is not always “fair,” it’s impossible to know just how the hand dealt to you will play out. Those of us who have experienced cancer sit in a unique place. The diagnosis is life changing. I, for one, am surprisingly thankful for how it has shaped my life.
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Sue Glader is a writer, mother, and breast cancer survivor living in Mill Valley, CA. She is the author of Nowhere Hair, a children’s book that explains life during chemo and addresses the biggest concerns of children ages three to ten. See inside the book at www.NowhereHair.com.
This article was originally published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, January/February 2011.