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A Cancer Support Person

This is not a title I thought I would have in my lifetime. I know my mom had cancer almost 14 years ago, but I didn't live close by. I was there for the briefest of times to help (I feel truly terrible about this. However, I had young children and a crumbling at the time.), but I don't think I would have been labeled as a support person then.

When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in May, I heard words in my head that had only been uttered once before in my life. The first time my mom told me she had cancer I was 27, living in Washington and she was in Alaska. I told my then husband her diagnosis and his response was so harsh. He said to me "well, at least we know what she is going to die from" and went back to whatever he was doing. When the ultrasound and biopsy happened this time, I heard those same words in my head and I immediately started to cry. And then I went outside and whispered in the wind "this cannot take my mom from me. It cannot take her life. We will overcome it."

I had to be present, I had to learn things, I had to put my fears, sadness, tears, anger aside and put on a brave face. This was the hardest thing in my life to do. I wanted to fall apart. I wanted to wallow. I wanted to scream.

I vowed to my mom that I would be at each and every doctors appointment. And I was. Besides 1. That meant that weekly I attended at least 1 appointment, a lot of the time it was 2-3. When 2023 started I was unsure how I would run my business. But I had made the decision to do far fewer weddings. I had a few experiences the year before that had me questioning myself and my abilities. I had a goal to do like 10 weddings or something. Maybe less. And boy. I am glad I did. Scott and I had started our insurance agency at the beginning of the year and my time was devoted to supporting that so much.

Things I wasn't prepared for when it comes to cancer:

  • the exhaustion: Seeing my mom tired. Watching her almost shrink away. Being so tired myself. My emotional bucket was empty a lot of the time.

  • loneliness: I have my sister near by to help with making the appointment waits bearable. I have a couple of friends who were so supportive to me, both here and from a distance. But literally, there were like 3 I knew I could go to when I needed to vent. I felt alone.

  • emotions: I didn't realize I could cry so much over cancer. I didn't realize I could be so angry at something taking away my time and making my mom so sick.

  • anger: as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, service is something we give freely, abundantly, easily. I have never felt so angry at a group of people. There was no help offered. Even when I asked for it. I needed a sitter for my littles during the summer so I could attend appointments. I asked if I could pay someone in my ward (congregation) to watch my kids. No one would help. My mom lives with us. I was running two businesses, running a home, being a cancer support person and I was worn out. I had one sweet friend bring dinner one evening for my family. That was the only offering of a meal from them until my mom had emergency surgery months later. I was told they all assumed my mom didn't need anything because "Sarah is handling everything so well" - I wasn't. I was angry for months.

  • pride: As I watched my mom work through her treatments, keep a positive attitude, do things she didn't want to (she always suggested we go shopping instead of to chemo) and give her body, mind and soul to actively fighting against the cancer I felt so much pride in her. I hope to emulate her in my daily life from now on.

I didn't want to be a cancer support person. But, I got to be.

I am better because of it. I feel how fast time flies. I want to savor moments. I want to cultivate memories for my family. This is why traditions are so important to me. Even when I felt like my world was crumbling and my foundation was cracking, the traditions we have as a family helped to ground me. Each one centered me and allowed me to feel normal while other feelings tried to take hold.

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