The hardest part about having cancer…

I knew I had cancer when I received a voicemail requesting that I “please call back” a doctor who had never asked me to call back in fourteen years. My initial external response was an incredibly less than profound statement to my friend Adrienne: “Oh great, I have cancer”. I shared three other short thoughts with her and decided there was absolutely nothing I could do about it at that moment and we went on to eat lunch.

I didn’t feel the sense of suffocating panic or fear I’ve heard other diagnosed people talk about. I didn’t burst into tears internally or externally, and I never felt, said, or asked God “Why me”? What I did feel was a total lack of surprise mixed with disappointment, sadness, guilt, and grief.

I wasn’t surprised because I am my Mother’s daughter. My Mom died of breast cancer. Like hers, my diagnosis was preceded by a series of ‘female issues’ that resulted in a number of surgeries and a variety of medical treatments to deal with those issues. Obviously they didn’t work.

I was incredibly disappointed in myself because I watched my Mom hold a disease at bay for a period of time by radically changing her lifestyle and somehow, even given similar health patterns, I apparently thought I was invincible and kept certain habits, foods, and stressors as a part of my lifestyle.

I felt a crushing sadness knowing my having cancer was going to cause the people I love the most- my family, friends and team- to experience fear for their own personal reasons, and pain in having to re-live the loss of my Mom (or their loved ones). I felt sad knowing even though I was the same person, with or without cancer, some people and things would change once my diagnosis became less private.

I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt over my third shared thought, which was: “I am glad my Mom isn’t here to know I have cancer”. WOW! My thought stemmed from the fact I knew my Mom would have felt a completely unfounded guilt had she been alive to see I share the same genetic mutation that likely caused her cancer. Regardless, it was and is a horrible feeling to even think those words and I remain filled with grief for the loss of my Mom whom I miss every single day.

So for me, the hardest part about having cancer had very little to do with the disease itself. It was more about the damage it causes to other people and the emotional scars it leaves behind.

However, remember I am blessed beyond measure. Whether I was inviting Him to lead me or not, God has prepared me for this journey through simple and extreme experiences, and through the gift of the people He has placed in my path.

The emotions of disappointment, sadness, guilt and grief are not conducive to a healing environment. I choose to focus on the blessings and gifts I have been given which are healing to my mind, body and spirit, and for which I am eternally grateful.

Note: This post was written December 14, 2012, which was my Mom’s birthday. The events of the day made it impossible for me to complete the post as I intended on that date.

Many of you know my Mom worked at Campion Academy where she loved and treated the students as if they were her own children. She saved money to buy a large beautiful oak table so she could invite at least eight of ‘her kids’ over for dinner after Church each week. My mom spent hours investing in kids who didn’t fit in, kids who needed a non-judgmental adult to listen and offer objective advice, and kids who simply needed an adult to be present and care.

I can’t count the number of times kids came up to me while I was still attending Campion and after graduation to tell me how lucky I was that Mrs. T was my Mom. I know she made life-changing differences to many of these kids, as she did for me personally.

She used to tell me, my sister, and the kids at Campion she was “accountable to God for how she raised us”. That pretty much gave her the ‘win’ for every teenage argument, as you can’t beat a Mom and God combo.

When my Mom was diagnosed with cancer, she told me: “If my getting cancer brings one person in our family back to God, it is totally worth it”. I know factually that it did, and not just for one person.

The massacre in Newtown, Connecticut would have broken my Mom’s heart. If you knew my Mom, you know she revered God above all. She loved her family more than herself, and would lay her life down for another without giving it a second thought.

I pray I live my life with the attitude and spirit of my Mom. I pray for her strength and total reliance on God, which saw her through every trial she faced. I pray I can be a servant leader as she was and impact the lives of the people around me as she did the lives around her.

Dedicated to the children and adult victims of Newtown, Connecticut, and my loving Mother Donna Jean Trujillo.

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16 Responses to The hardest part about having cancer…

  1. Ben A. Trujillo says:

    Well, it took me ten minutes to read this, because I kept breaking down in tears, but your writing is a blessing, and if it moves someone, as it has me, to act to live more healthfully, then you are doing a righteous deed.
    Love you,
    Dad

    • Trish T says:

      Thanks Dad! I know I dont’ have to tell you, but thinking about mom and how she might have felt is always on my mind. I can’t wait to see her in Heaven and tell her how much I love her and what a profound impact she really did have on my life. Without her example I may not have had the strength to take the path I did. Love you!

  2. ageunltd says:

    What is life without hope? Keep writing my friend, your God-gifted words are unveiling a hope to help us all conquer known and unknown diseases of this life. For we each have a “dis-ease” about something. Your words are golden! God bless you.

  3. Sharon says:

    Trish, I remember your mom’s “presence” without any passage or gap in time: she was the epitome of gentle kindness. It wasn’t just in her eyes; it was her aura. She continues to be a blessing, and as I see it, she welcomed 26 angels to join her at the biggest table imaginable with a big, warm hug on her birthday. xx

  4. Susan says:

    Trish you are blessed with a talent of writing. Love the part of healing your whole self. Reading this makes me feel humble and how in all things to give back to God. Brought tears to my eye. Praying for you.

    • Trish T says:

      You are very generous with that compliment! I wish our English teachers had felt the same! lol! Thank you Susan, I value your prayers and am grateful FB brought you back into my life. Your posts and selflessness have been very inspiring to me!

  5. Starla says:

    My emotions are jumbling up what words I would say. Keep sharing. It IS making a difference
    Love you!

  6. Peggy Marsh says:

    Trish T this is beautiful & I am blessed to know you. I know in my heart your mother is watching you & is so very proud of you. You have made it known how loving & wonderful your mother was thru your post. You can tell her each day how much you love her; she is listening & praying for ya.
    Peg

    • Trish T says:

      Thank you Peggy! I am blessed to have had her as a phenomenal example of how I should handle myself through this opportunity! I too am blessed to know you! You bring smiles to my face every day I see you!

  7. Thank you for sharing thoughts about your mom. She was a wonderful friend! I miss her so much! Think about her so often. I am sure she is in Heaven thinking: I have two wonderful, loving daughters. I am so proud of them!

    • Trish T says:

      I know that is exactly what she would think! I know she would also say that she valued you. You were always a true friend to her, and having you in her life made it more special! I’m glad FB has reconnected me to a part of my childhood through you. So many good memories and I can picture you and my mom laughing!

  8. Christine says:

    Beautifully written (as always). I think of your mom often and miss her so much. She would be so unbelieveably proud of you and the strength and courage you have in facing this latest challenge. While it has taken me quite some time to get through this latest installment of your fabulous blog (it is tough to read through tears), the best part has been all of the wonderful memories it brings back of time spent with your mom and the whole family on yearly trips to Green River and later in Loveland. Always loved the time spent at my home away from home 🙂

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