Welcome to the first week of My Mountain; a series of guest posts about the biggest challenges we face as parents. I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response to my request and can’t wait to get started! Our first guest blogger is mum and author Elizabeth Gross. I can’t thank her enough for sharing her powerful story with us.
“You have cancer”. Those words changed my life. After I heard them all I could think was, “My daughter’s only 8”. It just overwhelmed me. “How many dreams would I be able to help her make come true?” (Excerpt from the book, ‘Dream Accomplished: A Story of Cancer, A Mother’s Love & Taylor Swift)
As a parent, hearing the word ‘cancer’, struck fear right into my heart. My first thoughts were of our daughter, Page. “She’s too young”, I thought. “I can’t leave her now. She has her whole life to look forward to. How many dreams would I be able to help her make come true?”. Take a minute now and close your eyes, hear those three words. Say them to yourself simply, and slowly; You have cancer. How do you feel? What matters most to you? What do you do now?
I’ve lived those words, and I know the struggle that they impart. I also know that those words don’t mean your life is over. Yes, they’re life changing, but let them change your life for the better! They did for me. They started my family on an adventure of a lifetime, and my best advice to you as you navigate this new challenge in your life, is to listen to your heart.
Know that even though everything is changing, you are still you. Listen to your instincts and focus on what matters most to you. Yes, it’s a very scary, stressful, expensive, painful, emotional, and challenging time. Roles change, priorities change, fear permeates everything and everyone involved. It will be very difficult to focus, but it is possible.
Write down a goal, and everyday work towards it. Even if some days, or lots of days, you’re only able to move forward on your goal by the tiniest of steps possible, focus on it and the positive things in your life. It will help you heal, and from my experience, it makes all the difference.
Right away I knew my goal, I just didn’t know to call it that. You know yours, too. It’s that first thought you had after hearing your news. Hold tight to it through all the oncoming changes and difficult days. Stay strong and positive. And when you complete that first one, get started on another.
My first goal was to help my daughter make a dream come true. I wrote it down. I focused on it. My daughter and I snuggled, and giggled and enjoyed our time together. Yes, we had awful days. Yes, I was, and am, sometimes so, so sick. Yes, it took a long time, and I thought at times it was impossible. But our family stuck together, held each other together by focusing on something good. And not only did we accomplish Page’s dream, we realized that even ill, even in our darkest hour, we could still accomplish anything! We realized every day, no matter how hard or awful it is, it’s still special because we’re together. That realization is the biggest gift we could have been given. We recognize now that life is not guaranteed. I’d lost that thought in the daily flow of life. Tomorrow I’ll get to this or that. But what if there is no tomorrow? I’d never really thought of that until I was faced with that realization. I’ll never take that for granted again.
I hope my experience is a help to you through the very difficult parenting challenge of navigating a cancer journey. Listen to your heart. Have a goal. Keep your priorities in focus. Work your goal and enjoy your family time together. Keep dreaming impossible dreams, because you, too, even with cancer, can still reach them. You can still say, just as we do, “Dream Accomplished”. *
“You have cancer” is an article based off Elizabeth’s awardwinning book, ‘Dream Accomplished: A Story of Cancer, A Mother’s Love & Taylor Swift’. Written as a thank you to her daughter’s hero, this book also helps and inspires others as they, too, fight their own cancer or invisible illness battle. Paying forward the kindness Taylor has shown Elizabeth’s family, all profits are donated to help others by funding an assortment of cancer and invisible illness research and support causes. For more information please visit www.dreamaccomplished.com.
*If you would like to contribute to the My Mountain series with a piece about your biggest parenting challenge please email firstname.lastname@example.org*