March is going to be a big month for me. For lots of reasons. Good reasons. Hard reasons. Sad reasons. Exciting reasons. I will do lots of sharing, over time. To kick it off today, I would like to start with a letter written to Principessa.
I am thankful….that I had cancer.
The fact that I could even think about saying….I am thankful …for such a thing, for cancer. Sounds crazy. Right?
But it is true. I am thankful for having had cancer.
Because it gave me you.
I know, it sounds ridiculous. I was not supposed to be able to have you because I had cancer. And yet, in so many ways, my being sick, put me on the path to you.
Had I not been sick I would have married someone other than your dad. My life would have gone in an entirely different direction. I might have been very happy. I might even have had a baby, but, it would not have been you.
Being sick made everything different. It magnified even the smallest of things from the taste of the Chinese food that I ate on Wednesdays after chemo to the sound of the phone ringing when my doctor called. It made me feel more and it made me feel less. Every fight was harder. Every celebration more triumphant.
I did not really think about my own mortality, despite being sick. Sure, there were moments. Moments where I allowed myself to be scared by the doctors as they detailed every possible statistic and percentage. Moments where I was mad as hell at god and the world for putting me through it all. But despite the anger and confusion and sense of injustice, with each new day, I really only wanted ONE thing beyond my health. I wanted a baby. I wanted to be a mom.
When I did get healthy— I was alone, well, except for the elephant in the room that trumpeted every time I had a non specific symptom. I probably worried more after I was healthy than when I was actually sick. I spun my wheels until I decided to train for a marathon. I was not really a runner, and my doctors thought it was something I would never be able to do. Which in my non conforming, who do you think you are brain, meant that it was the perfect thing to do. So I trained. I ran. And I ran some more. But still, that chorus of what I truly wanted rang in my head.
I met your dad, training for that marathon, and eventually I allowed myself to dream. Maybe, just maybe, I could be a mom. Despite what the doctors said. Despite the horribly toxic medicine that had run through my veins. The chorus in my head got stronger with each passing day. Wanting one thing. To be a mom.
And yet we were told we couldn’t. Because I was a cancer survivor. Because those medicines to make me better had taken away that possibility.
And yet…there you were.
I will never forget that day. At five weeks, you were not even the size of a grain of rice. The doctors were not sure you would survive. I was afraid to love you, to celebrate you, to believe….but then….
There you were, sucking on a thumb or finger or random tiny body part on every single ultrasound. It was you who taught me about strength, courage and resilience. Sure, I survived cancer. Sure I ran two marathons. But those journeys had nothing on hearing your heartbeat or feeling you kick inside my belly. How could I not believe in this little being that had overcome every possible obstacle to find its way into the world.
I wondered. I doubted. I worried. And yet, there you were. strong. And there. And growing.
You had made it this far. You were a survivor. You were my miracle.
Had I not been sick I would not have learned to believe in miracles. I would not have learned to believe in much of anything. But I was. And I did. Because of you.
Seven years later, divorced from the man I only met because of the marathon that I only ran because of my doctors, I think back, and gaze in your direction. Your smile reminds me of the power of faith and the power of love. The power of overcoming things you never thought you would have to face. Things you never thought you could get through.
So yes, I am thankful. For having had cancer. Because without having been that patient, that person, that me, I may never have had you.