As everyone knows, Elizabeth Edwards lost her battle with breast cancer yesterday. I never knew her personally, but the news saddened me, as news of anyone dying of cancer saddens me.
I relate to Elizabeth Edwards. Her thoughts, as she declined, were of her children. Her youngest son is 10 years old. My son is nine years old. When I was first diagnosed with Stage IV Inflammatory Breast Cancer nearly three years ago and, at that time, given a five-year prognosis, my first words were, “but I have a six year old son.” As if that pronouncement would stage off death, as if things would end up differently for me because my son needs his mother. All children need their parents. I can’t say that my son needs me more than other children need their mothers, but I can say that our case is more complicated than many others. Because my son was adopted from Vietnam at four months old, he has already experienced losses through his adoption, including the loss of his birth mother. It pains me to think that he may lose me, his everyday mom, because of this horrid cancer.
Like Elizabeth, I ended up conquering cancer. With an incredible medical team, great medicine, and, I believe, a strong faith in God and many people praying for me, I beat it. Almost a year after I was diagnosed with a staggeringly bad form of cancer, at Stage IV even, I was found free of cancer, in remission.
Unfortunately, also like Elizabeth, I am having a recurrence of my cancer. The treatment for this cancer worked once and my oncologist believes it will work again. I want nothing more than to watch my son grow up, for my son to have his mother around to help guide him to adulthood. These are some words that Elizabeth echoed in an interview:
“It scares me the most that there’s going to be a day that, you know, is likely to come before I wanted it to come where I have to tell these sweet children goodbye,” she said in a Nightline interview.
It is this that breaks my heart the most. For Elizabeth. For her children. And for mothers with cancer who have died before me, and of course for their children. And, whenever it happens, for my son, and for me of not being around — of the possibility of not seeing him grow up, the possibility of not seeing him go through college, get married, have children. For the things that so many people take for granted that I don’t take for granted anymore. I can’t. I simply don’t have that luxury.
Neither did Elizabeth Edwards. Her death is a loss to so very many people, but these days, my heart goes out to her children.
Cross-posted to Just Enjoy Him.