The Bravery Bell
Yesterday my mom rang the “Bravery Bell” on the chemotherapy floor at Princess Margaret hospital for the second and hopefully last time. The first time she rang it was back in December when she completed her chemo treatments. While we were so enthusiastic to have that horrible period finished, there was still a long road ahead complete with a big surgery, radiation, and continued medicinal transfusions. Yesterday marked the end of all of that. I wish I could personally thank all the researchers and doctors who recently discovered a treatment plan for the type of cancer my mom had. Thank you to G-d for a successful treatment plan. (She has another minor surgery at the end of the month and please gd that will be the final end to this unpleasant journey.)
I posted on my personal Instagram account my mom ringing the Bravery bell and I got many comments on how she was an inspiration. It got me thinking about everything I personally learned from my mom watching her battle cancer and I decided to put my thoughts to paper.
1) You are your best advocate
There were many examples of this along the way when it came to scheduling surgery and radiation treatments, but most importantly when she advocated for herself right at the beginning. She saw her breast was swollen and she asked for a mammogram right away even though it wasn’t the protocol. If she didn’t call daily until she got an appointment from a cancelation, the cancer could have spread further than the lymph-nodes.
My mom didn’t lose her smile this year, even through the hardest times she made sure to appreciate the small things and smiled for that.
3) Be kind and Treat everyone with respect
You’re poked an prodded by many people at the hospital and she always thanked them.
My mom is the type of person always thinking of others and wanting to help. She didn’t stop being that way, she continued to be a support to so many.
4) Be brave and others will follow
As the matriarch of our family, she set the tone for the rest of us to handle this time. She didn’t hide the truth, she sat down and told us the facts. She never once wavered with her optimism and strength and that gave us a lead to follow.
5) Always answer a text message/email
If you ever wrote to my mom and she didn’t answer, it meant that she didn’t receive it. She took the time to respond to every single message that was sent to her. At times I even tried to tell her not to, to rest instead, but the messages brought her joy and she wanted to respond to say thank you.
6) Be genuinely happy for others
Even if the situation is one where she loses out, she’s genuinely happy for the other person.
Even when she was too sick to leave her bed, she was genuinely happy for others good news.
7) Love unconditionally.
Not something new but something she always does.
Thank you Mommy for being an inspiration to me. If you would have broken down, which you had every single right to, I would have broken right down with you. It is only because of your strength and grace that we were all able to emulate that.
I wrote a post last year “Cancer came knocking” that I just reread after I wrote this list – I realize now that a lot of the things I wrote, I already had seen at the start of her journey. It’s important to note that as time went on these things didn’t waiver. She was a superhero the entire time.
At the end of my post last year I wrote “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.” I couldn’t be more grateful to update that she is in good health.
As an only daughter one might think that all the “responsibilities” were on me, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. My husband and brothers were ever-present and my sisters-in-laws were there for my mom as her daughters, from being at her treatments to calling and visiting all the time.
My dad, he deserves his own post. He’s the one who went to every dr. appointment absorbed the information and explained it to us. If you know my dad, you know he’s the smartest and most generous man and a truly supportive husband and father.
There are no words to properly thank everyone for their support over the past year and a half. From prayers to phone calls to warm fresh challah, every word and gesture of comfort made an impact. Thank you.