Cancer Helped Me Be A Better Solo Mom
Solo Mom in remission shares lessons she learned
“Cancer. It’s just a word, right?” said no one ever. I told myself this word could not find a home within my self-defining vocabulary as it ravaged members of my family and friends. I didn’t want to associate myself with this word, this thing.
And then one day, after months and months of unanswered questions about my diminishing health, I got a call. “You have cancer.” My life froze and, at the same time, started to spiral out of control. The unwanted guest had been burrowing into my body and ravaging my youth. The next year flew by with doctors’ appointments, surgeries, and so many medical tests. Test after test brought anxiety as I waited for the next result. I was lucky. My body healed eventually, and after several years of treatment, I slowly got stronger. It’s been 10 years since my first diagnosis, and I still can remember every detail of the day I received the call about my cancer.
Now, in remission, as a Solo Mom to a beautiful little girl, I hold on to some very important lessons that I learned during my illness.
Lean on others
The first lesson I learned was to lean. You cannot stand up on your own during such a difficult time physically and emotionally. As a Solo Mom, you have one or more children who look to you for love and support. You need to be supported emotionally and physically so you can be a fighter, beat cancer, and be present for your children. My initial reaction to the diagnosis made me withdrawn and limited my ability to cope. I didn’t reach out or lean on anyone. I thought I could manage on my own. I was strong, so I thought. Even the strongest of moms deserve to have their hand held and get extra help cleaning the house and making a meal or two. Lean a little bit more and put together a short list of friends or family to go with you to your appointments and go over medical material. It will create a sense of security, and you will be thankful for this when you are too weak and tired from treatment to do it all alone.
Find support groups
I know this sounds cliché, and it made my stomach turn into knots. I didn’t want to share with strangers my innermost feelings. Well, you don’t have to. There are now great resources and nonprofits putting the fun back into the lives of cancer patients and survivors. There are radio shows and meetups around North America designed to help you shake it up and shake it off, answer your important questions, and keep you posted on the latest and greatest in cancer treatments. Most of these options weren’t available to me when I was undergoing treatment. I did become involved with one group, Stupid Cancer, once I was in remission. I found an incredible community and have enjoyed the closeness it’s given me with other survivors. I had always felt so alone on my cancer path, and I couldn’t believe the relief when fellow young adults with cancer understood my ups and downs during and after my treatment. Similarly, as a Solo Mom, find playgroups and other women who support you with camaraderie and information.
Be present and flexible
The world is not black and white. I spent a lot of time being angry. I was angry with everything and with God. Why me? I’ve been a good person. I love my family. It didn’t make sense. I wrestled with the concept of death. What did it mean to me? More important, what was my relationship with life? I started to see everything in the world as either black or white. All questions were to be met with a yes or no. I didn’t understand when I was met with indecision from others or the universe gave me a mixed bag. There were no shades of grey—no color. I was in control, or so I thought. As a Solo Mom I’ve had to adjust. I can’t be in control of everything and be happy. There are so many colors now in my life and many shades of gray. Learning to let go has been one of the biggest changes I’ve made. Now I can be in the moment, enjoy the journey, and really understand what it means to be present.
Embrace the champion within you
My journey with cancer didn’t end with remission. It was just the beginning of my story. I’ve learned to listen to my intuition, love myself a bit more every day, and continue to be fearless. My daughter needs me to be a fighter. I am her heavyweight champion. Her love gives me the strength to believe in myself far beyond my ordinary grasp. Each day I have known her is a blessing, and my life is far better because of it. Maybe I need to thank the cancer for giving me the opportunity to change and expand.
Rebecca Cherry is an accomplished musician, writer, and creative seeker. She is enjoying her new role as a Solo Mom to her baby girl. You can follow her on Twitter at @CherryRebecca and Facebook at Rebecca Cherry.
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