Coping with Cancer as a Young Mom

Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I had no signs or symptoms. I was a devoted mommy to four little boys, ages 3, 5, 7 and 9, and I was in the best shape of my life. One of my last pre-cancer memories was when my youngest started preschool in fall 2016. I remember thinking that my life was truly picture-perfect.

Then one day, my son was jumping around and hit my chin, causing extreme pain from just a little bump. I went to the dentist, then another doctor, then had some scans…

About one week later, we got the call. I couldn’t bear to hear what they had to tell me. I asked them to call my husband instead. “Your wife has bone cancer. She has a very aggressive form of osteosarcoma.”

My husband immediately drove home from work. This cancer diagnosis turned our life upside down in the blink of an eye. I was absolutely terrified. I couldn’t believe it. How could this happen to me? No one in my family has cancer. I have to take care of my sons.

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As I began treatment – both surgery and chemotherapy – I was more worried about my kids than I was about myself. All day long I would feel miserable and lethargic. But then every day at 3 p.m., before my boys came home, I would go upstairs, put on my wig and get my brave face and smile ready. I wanted them to see me as if nothing were wrong. I so, so badly wanted nothing to be wrong.

I now have chemo and surgery behind me, and I have confidence in my treatment plan. But this life still feels so new to me. I have a lot of anxiety about upcoming scans. I try to keep busy and spend time with my family to keep my mind off of everything. I feel so grateful to be healthy again, and I look forward to every single day that I get to spend with my kids and family.

Hearing other patients’ stories really helped me cope. I remember scrolling through Roswell Park’s social media and seeing Leah’s story. She resonated with me because I, too, was a runner, and I also felt as if everything had been taken away from me. I didn’t know Leah, but her story made me think I could do this. I could push through and survive.

I hope my story can help someone else, especially other young moms. So many people are depending on you, and it can feel so overwhelming. You’re tired and emotional, but you have to be strong in front of your kids. You don’t want them to worry, and that alone makes it doubly exhausting.

Yes, cancer changed us. But in some ways, it was for the better. My family is closer together, and we appreciate life more.

At the end of the day, I did the best I could for their sake.

Editor’s Note: Cancer patient outcomes and experiences may vary, even for those with the same type of cancer. An individual patient’s story should not be used as a prediction of how another patient will respond to treatment. Roswell Park is transparent about the survival rates of our patients as compared to national standards, and provides this information, when available, within the cancer type sections of this website.