At Parenting with Cancer, it’s never too late to celebrate Mother’s Day. Here’s a special message from Maya Silver, co-author of “My Parent Has Cancer And It Really Sucks.”
by Maya Silver
When I was 15, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I never wanted to talk about it. Like many teens facing a parent’s cancer, I was fearful. I was ashamed. I felt guilty. While writing the book with my dad, I reflected deeply on the cancer experience in my family. For the first time since my mom was diagnosed, I processed and analyzed all of my teenaged emotions, reactions and behaviors during this difficult time.
And so, here’s a letter to mom. An apology. A clarification. A thank you:
I wasn’t always there for you. I didn’t always ask you how you were doing. I avoided you. I was embarrassed that you were sick, bald, exhausted. I chose sleepovers with friends over family nights. Did I buy you flowers? Did I give you a hug every night before you went to bed? Was I ever mean? Did I yell?
I can’t remember the details. The year of cancer in our family was a blur. And I wish I were a better daughter at the time.
After talking to so many other teens going through this experience and spending a year reflecting upon, thinking about, processing cancer, I can now give you a window into my teenaged mind. I wanted to be independent. I didn’t want to pitied. I believed so strongly that you would survive that I avoided fear and rejected grief about the experience. I felt guilty when I wasn’t there for you.
I want to apologize for the way I may have acted, for the things I didn’t do and the words I never spoke. I want to let you know that I was scared, I did care and I did want to be there for you.
And I want to thank you for being an incredible model for me and for anyone battling cancer. You dealt with it realistically and gracefully — all while still being an awesome mom. Thank you for not holding me to higher expectations (even if you should have!). Thank you for understanding that I still needed to be a teen. Thank you for forgiving me if I wasn’t always the best daughter. And thank you for the one silver lining of our cancer experience – the opportunity for Dad and I to give back and fill a gap in resources. Now, teens will have a guide to turn to and hopefully be better sons and daughters to a parent with cancer than I was!
Happy Mothers Day.