When a person is faced with death, they say “their life flashes before their eyes.” When I was told I had breast cancer, my children’s lives passed before mine. They were only two and five years old at the time, and I had a lot of mothering still to do. I was the one who should be there to send them off to school and be waiting at the bus stop when they arrived back with tales to tell about the day. I still had years of birthday parties to plan and cute little outfits to dress them in. I had homework to help with and after school activities to get them to. I had soccer games and ballet recitals to attend and lots of motherly advice to offer in their teen years.
But how would my cancer diagnosis impact my plans for raising my children? During the next couple of weeks, as I went through scans to see if my cancer had spread, I prayed. I prayed to God to get me to their graduation day. By then I felt the important part of my job would be done. For me, graduation day signifies the moment when a child is no longer a child, but an adult entering into an adult life.
A couple of my survivor sisters recently celebrated this victorious day with their children, and it truly tugged at my heartstrings. One of those sisters is Angie Suttles, who at the age of 44 is battling her second Stage IV cancer. But despite her continuing battle that first started in 1998, Angie celebrated this momentous day with her son Caleb. She had the opportunity to sit in the audience to see her son dressed in cap and gown walk up on that grand stage as his name was announced to receive a certificate that symbolizes a transition into his adult years. It is a moment that is filled with pride as well as a sense of sadness as a mother sees her child leaving the nest. But for a mother battling cancer, there is also a feeling of immense gratitude to have come to that day.
Angie wrote it best in her Facebook post, "Graduation Day! The beginning of a new season! Thankful for the promises of God that sustained me to bring me to this day & I have the honor of watching my son walk this 'rite of passage.' I believe & expect God to see my family through to His 'great' plans for our lives & we will live to proclaim His goodness. Thank you, God…my son did not grow up without a mother. It's a day of victory & celebration."
I am seven years past my diagnosis. My children are now 10 and 13, and I am thankful for every moment that I have been allowed to be part of their lives. I still pray to see their graduation day, but over the years I’ve added a few more milestones to the list. My list now includes their college graduation, wedding day, visiting their first home, holding their children in my arms, weekend babysitting, and so on. As a daughter, one thing I have learned through the years is that mothering never ends, and I hope to always be there for my kids like my mother has always been there for me.