One year ago today, I was in the ER being treated for an ectopic pregnancy. Three weeks ago, I welcomed my precious baby girl into this world. My son got the sister he asked for and our hearts expanded as we became a family of five. We couldn’t be more grateful that our story took a positive turn and we continue to pray that all those yearning to become parents or to expand their family are able to.

If you asked me on October 23rd 2016 what I pictured my life a year from now, I would definitely not have given the right answer, and not just about having a baby. This summer, cancer knocked on my family’s door. My mom is my best friend, we do everything together. When she called me and asked if I was home and if she could come over, I immediately knew something was wrong. She kept a very brave face when telling me that she noticed her breast was swollen and asked for a mammogram, and that she had just come from having a biopsy done. She needed to wait a few days for the results and she wanted to believe it was probably nothing.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t nothing; it was breast cancer which spread to the lymph nodes and she needs chemo, surgery and radiation.

I’ve written this post many times in my head and I’m never sure where I want to take it. When I was reflecting on the date today, it gave me hope that when we come upon July 31st, 2018, I hope and pray we can look back and say “I can’t believe it was a year ago that you were diagnosed with cancer.”

We never ever know where life takes us. One day your life is one way and the next it’s completely upside down. You wish that the little things that seemed annoying or bothered you could be your biggest problems again. With every experience we can learn life lessons and here is what I have learned so far from my mother’s journey with cancer. (She is halfway through her chemo treatments)

1) My mom is a superhero.

It’s hard to put this into words and I’m not going to do it justice but the attitude my mom has had since the day she found out has been inspiring. She has kept a positive outlook and somehow managed to smile and laugh even when she feels really lousy.

She has always been an amazing mother and friend and she hasn’t for a second let her being sick get in the way of still being there for everyone.

I went with her to her first chemo and I know she felt really nervous but she smiled at everyone who helped us. Within a week of her first treatment she had a blood clot and was told she needed to immediately start daily injections. She didn’t cry at the doctors appointment or yell that it’s not fair – that she already has enough on her plate, which is what I would have done / wanted to do. Instead she took the news in stride and powered on.

She makes sure to respond to EVERY message that gets sent to her and she tries to respond immediately because she never wants to wait to respond for fear that she will forget.

That leads me to number two

2) When in doubt, reach out.

I can’t tell you how touched we all are by everyone who reached/reaches out and offers well wishes. It can be an awkward thing to do, but every single message gives her renewed strength and determination to fight this awful disease.

*I know there are times that a person wants to keep it private so of course that is their personal wish and should be respected, my mom is very open about it which I know is not always the case*

3) People are wonderful.

I know people can be really mean and lately this world just makes you feel like there is only hate. People have offered to help, dropped off goodies and fresh challah and nice gifts. There’s no doubt in my mind that having a wonderful community (locally and from far) have made this process way easier than fighting it alone.

4) Modern medicine is amazing. All the doctors and nurses are real live superheroes.

5) You never know what’s around the corner

It’s so so easy to get caught up in small things, but at the end of the day we really don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

This is something we all know, but I think it’s just really hard to put it into practice long term. I know when you hear something that reminds you that life is short, temporarily it’s easy to remember to focus on the things that really matter. Usually (at least for me) it’s very easy to fall back into usual patterns.

So how do we hold on to that feeling and continue for the long term to ‘let the small things go’ and focus our attention in more positive ways? I don’t have the answer.

Just as on this day last year when it was pretty scary to be in the ER, I went home and had an opportunity to take a moment and remember that – thank G-d I have 2 healthy children who mean the world to me. I used today as a reminder to really take a moment and be grateful for everything I have. I pray that I can update this blog next year with news that my mom is in good health and I pray for everyone who’s waiting for good news to receive it.