Large hand enveloping a baby's hand

Grateful for This Life I Have, Except for the Cancer

Last January, I became a new grandmother to a gorgeous baby girl. Never in my wildest dreams did I allow myself to think ahead when I was diagnosed in 2013. All I wanted was to be here through my son's high school years. I was counting on the treatment plan my doctors recommended to get me there.

Then and now

When my son was growing up, he and I had a close relationship. I was a hard-core momma bear. I didn't think I could love anyone as much as I do him. Then my grandbaby was born. Every time I see her, my heart feels like it will burst. Spending time with her is my favorite thing to do. I am seeing all the "firsts" I didn't get to see when my son was that age due to my job. Being with her and my daughter-in-law when she said 'da-da.' It was a priceless gift.

My granddaughter is nine months old. She's cutting her first tooth and talking to her toys. She crawls like a ninja and standing is her favorite thing to do. Each time I see her, she's doing something new. I can't believe I'm a grandmother.

Realities of limitations with MBC

It fills me with so much joy, but boy, I am exhausted after spending time with her. The medications zap my energy quickly. Getting up from playing with her on the floor is a project. If I don't have a piece of furniture to help steady myself, I have to get creative. I roll over and get up from a crawling position. It's quite a sight.

Having metastatic breast cancer is not a blessing. I gladly would give it back if I could. It has taken a lot from me. So, it's difficult to reconcile the fact that if I didn't have cancer, I would miss out on all of this. Her early years. The most precious years. But I know it's because of this diagnosis that I can make memories with my granddaughter. There are pictures of her and me, and she gets excited to see me.

Optimism not pessimism

I don't know when this treatment I am on will fail. It could be tomorrow or ten years from now. My granddaughter may not remember me except for the pictures of us for her to see if this cancer takes me before she grows up. With this in mind, I have been writing her letters and making short videos where I read her a book.

Some may think that's morbid or a negative way of thinking, and that's OK. I let my anger out about having metastatic breast cancer years ago. I am a planner, so this is my way of planning for her future. Plus, my memory isn't like it used to be. The thoughts I have now that I am memorializing for the future may also benefit me should I be around when they are appropriate to express.

The gift

The gift isn't cancer, it's my granddaughter, and that's priceless to me. So, I concentrate on her now. I soak in everything I can about her, like her rosy cheeks, curiosity, and laughter. Seeing my son feed his daughter and give her a bottle fills me with pride. He became the man I hoped he would become and more.

So, even though I have an illness with no cure, I thank the universe that I am still here to be part of this phase of life, and I focus on the day ahead, not the "when IT happens."

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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