On September 27th, 2013 we received the earth shattering news that my mom had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The past 6 weeks have been some of the toughest in my life but almost some of the most important. I have been tried mentally and emotionally in a more intense way than I can ever describe, but my challenges have been nothing compared to what my mom has battled against on a day to day basis. Through it all, some things have become resoundingly clear.
I have the strongest most amazing mother in the world. Her positivity, strength, and selflessness even in the face of the greatest challenge in her life continues to inspire me every second of every day. The way that Mom met this challenge with her unyielding positive attitude from day one has been nothing short of incredible. There is no doubt in my mind that her outlook on life, her natural tendency to find joy in the simple things, and her faith in God will help her through this. God continues to use her to motivate and inspire those around her and those who are fortunate enough to know her every day.
I have been reminded how I have the best family in the entire world. Reminded of how my dad’s love for my mom is boundless and eternal as he continuously does whatever he can to put her first, help her be as comfortable as possible, and assist her on the road to recovery. My brother who lives close to home has made an extra effort to be home with Mom more than ever and has constantly worked to find new combinations of foods that she can eat to keep her energetic and healthy. My brother’s fiancée has pulled from her own personal experiences defeating cancer to assist my mom in preparing for the mental and physical challenges she would face through this process. We are all proud to say that she will soon be an official part of our family (although it is really just a formality as she is basically already my sister).
I have seen time and time again that I have the best friends in the world who have offered their undying support through all of this. Listening to me and allowing me to vent over the phone, I can’t thank you all enough for everything you are doing for me. You may think that you are not doing anything significant but I assure you, every piece of support means the world to me and my family.
My mom and dad have always taught me to find the silver lining in life, in every single day. They are the biggest reason that I started on this journey to motivate and inspire the world, because they made me believe that I could. No matter what idea I came up with, my parents told me, “You can do it son!” With unwavering belief and conviction in their eyes. My mom has always worked to find the silver lining in life and now more than ever I am being tested to apply her lessons to my own life.
I told her when we first found out the news, through tears over the phone, my hands shaking, and my breathing wavering erratically, “God has a lesson to teach us in all of this, although it will not be an easy one, we are going to get through this together and use the lessons we learn from this to help others.”
To everyone out there who is struggling through something difficult, who feels disconnected, like the are trapped in a pit of despair from what life has thrown at them. I want you to know, there are people out there who care. There are people who will do anything to help you find your own happiness. For those of you that are struggling watching someone else you know going through a tough time know that all they need to know is that you love them. Share a smile with them, a laugh, a hug, and allow your real emotions to show through.
Life is too short to waste time pretending to be who you think others want you to be. There is no need to wear masks because the real you is more beautiful than any mask you could ever hide behind. My mom reminds everyone she meets of this simple fact and I want to share that message with the world.
Cancer really makes you appreciate the little things more than ever before. A pain-free day, a hug, a visit from a friends new puppy, a visit from Wisconsin and the whole family being together again, being able to eat a piece of birthday cake on your birthday, a full nights sleep, a card from a friend. Maybe that is the lesson in all of this, to really step back and realize just how full of blessings our lives really are. An easy lesson? No. But an important one? Absolutely, one of the most important we can learn.
September 27th may have been the worst day of my life, feeling scared, frightened, and alone, far from home unable to hug my mom and tell her everything would be okay. Lying on my couch in a pool of tears feeling lost and confused, uncertain of the road ahead. Now, only 6 weeks later, I am watching my mom grow stronger day by day and find herself one step closer to recovery. A clear pet scan confirmed the cancer has not spread, an MRI confirmed that the spots on the liver were nothing more than lesions, and her indomitable spirit continues to bring her through challenge after challenge.
I cannot wait for the day when we all look back and talk about the time mom had cancer in the past tense. But until that day Mom, we are here for you in any and every way you need. Remember you are never alone in this God is with you and we are with you. There is nothing more I can say than simply this. I love you Mom.