My mom always shows up
I needed help to take showers after my bilateral mastectomy.
I could barely move my arms. So, I needed help with lots of things, but there's something about needing help to shower that made me feel particularly vulnerable.
I had four drains coming from my chest, bandages where my nipples used to be, a seriously swollen abdomen that made me look pregnant. And my one request was "Please, don't let me see my breasts."
My husband helped me get in the shower, but it wasn't long before my mom's motherly instincts kicked in and she took over.
Part of me wanted to feel embarrassed. The scenario alone felt unnatural. There I was at 26 with breast cancer, unable to wash my face, feed myself, use the bathroom alone or simply, take a shower.
Under normal circumstances, I'd definitely be within reason to feel embarrassed, but these were not normal circumstances. And I did not feel embarrassed. I felt thankful I had a mother who was not only willing to help me, she was able to.
It was November by the time I was referred to a breast surgeon and I was diagnosed the day before New Year's Eve.
So, for two months in 2016, my life was mammograms, ultrasounds and MRIs. And when it seemed the appointments weren't slowing down, my mom showed up.
She came to my doctor's appointments and asked questions. She sat in the waiting room while I did scans. She slept with me in the hospital and kept me sane. And when I got home, she knew what I needed before I did.
My mother is an extraordinary woman, but she feels guilty about my cancer. Guilty because the strong history of breast cancer is on her side of the family. Guilty because she always assumed she would have cancer at some point in her life because her mother had it twice. Guilty because life handed me an unlikely hand at the age of 26.
But her guilt is groundless.
My cancer is not her fault. This wasn't a situation my mother could control and therefore, not something she should take ownership of. If she's looking for something to own, she should revel in the fact that I am better in every way in large part because she's an incredible mother who has always showed up.