I dropped a little bomb last week, by way of admission in this column space.
Or so I came to learn, just a few days after the piece went to press.
The “bomb” or news I finally chose to share was the recurrence of my Stage 3 Breast Cancer.
As I type this we are very close to nearing a finish line once again, as my past three months have been spent with good company road tripping to UCSF each week for chemotherapy. Many things have been different this time around, one which I will address at a later date. Primarily the difference has come back to something very simply which is difficult for most moms to do.
With a column space entitled “Mommy Musings,” it seems appropriate to share a little bit of this lesson.
Upon hearing of my initial diagnosis I made the decision to not only embrace traditional medicine, but explore alternative approaches as well. Altering my diet, continuing to move daily, as well as exploring the emotional impact life and circumstances have on the body.
Sound odd? A decade ago it would to me as well.
Through the practice of yoga when I first began my journey to wellness in 2011, I experienced this firsthand. Energy blocks in the body by way of life experience and how and where we hold the energy. This was transformational for me, as I experienced a physical blockage of my heart following the collapse of a 20-year marriage.
Not to be confused, there were no arteries blocked, it wasn’t a medical diagnosis. This was a discovery made through movement as certain poses would cause physical nausea due to said blocks.
Now, I recognize for some readers this might be a little far out; I get that. On my path, however, this is something I’m grateful to have experienced as well as come to understand most especially when I learned of my cancer diagnosis in 2020.
Turning to friends who have careers with aiding others in alternative ways, they quickly became part of my team. There’s a lot I learned traveling down that path, the one thing which was the most glaring and hard to completely embrace was my need to not just be accepted by others, but make everyone happy as well.
There’s also the issue of being a perfect mother and no matter how much we tell ourselves we are doing our best and that is enough, deep down we try our best to turn out great kids: polite, driven, compassionate, all the things, right?
There’s also the drive to create lasting memories for them and create a childhood they will reflect on fondly.
Oh, I hear so many of you now. Just like I was once, convinced this is not you. Not stressing a single thing, content with all that you are achieving and providing for your children - if that’s authentically true, well good for you.
My reason for sharing this (again and in another way), is my recurrence showed me not only was this a hard habit to break, but it was so a part of my being that it took a recurrence for me to truly grasp what was most important - my life.
Sound extreme? Well, it should because it is.
Last week, as I found myself in the company of community members shocked by the news of my recurrence, I also was pleased to hear so many genuinely share they felt I looked great.
Proof positive that how we chose to walk this chapter was the right way indeed. Privately going the path, supported and assisted by those close to us and lastly, letting go of the drive to make everyone else happy. In short, truly treating myself with the love and kindness I give to so many others.
This is more than just simply saying no to things. This is a commitment to remembering that I was living a life worthy of my fullest attention and TLC. After all, what’s the purpose of doing “all the things” for your kids, if you’re not able to be here to see them blossom and prosper?
So yes, I will forever now live a life of checking the box of medical history which says cancer, but more importantly I now face each day with eyes of opportunity and a mindset of “is it really that important?”
For some, that later sentence may be unnerving. I get it, but for this girl it just simply boils back to the age old quote which is now my life mantra, “Don’t sweat the small stuff … it’s all small stuff.”
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-847-3021.