In addition to breakfast in bed or a handmade card, my mom received an unwanted gift on Mother’s Day 2012. She had gotten a phone call from her doctor regarding her recent mammogram. The diagnosis was breast cancer. Suddenly everything changed for me and my family. We began to question things that moments ago we had felt so sure of. As her teenage daughter, I had my own set of questions. With breast cancer, how was she going to teach me the things that only a mother can teach? Could she still take me prom dress shopping? Was she going to be able to help me plan for my wedding? Would she be able to help me figure out how to be a mother myself when the time came?
I soon realized that only time could answer these questions. Instead of dwelling on the uncertainty of the future, my mom and I began to focus on the present. As strange as it sounds, her diagnosis of breast cancer strengthened our relationship in many ways. We began to spend more time together, we began to communicate more effectively, and we began to fully appreciate each other.
I learned a lot from the experience, but if I could give three pieces of advice to any mother with a breast cancer diagnosis when it comes to her relationship with her daughter, it would be…
Little things are BIG things: Seemingly unexciting things like going for a walk or making dinner together are priceless opportunities to spend quality time together and make memories.
Share your feelings, even if they aren’t always positive: Chances are, you have felt scared or worried regarding your diagnosis. Well, your daughter probably has too. Sharing can let your daughter know it is okay to have those feeling and the two of you can talk about it together.
Don’t put life on hold: Keep doing things together. Go get your nails done, go see a “chick flick” at the movie theater, go wig shopping! Don’t save mother-daughter things for when you’re in remission. Chances are, when you’re having fun together, you’ll forget all about the cancer.
All in all, the experience was a hard one, but it was also incredibly valuable. My mom and I learned a lot about each other and our relationship grew so much. Eventually, I stopped worrying as much about the future, because the present had so much to offer. Every day was special, every day was filled with love, and every day became a special kind of mother’s day.
And in case you were wondering, she was still able to take me prom dress shopping.
Click here for more information on talking to your daughter about breast cancer.