I am Thankful for Cancer

by Elena on March 1, 2012 in All About Me,Cancer

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.

Thankful for Cancer | Ciao 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….

I am thankful for Cancer | Ciao Mom

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.

Ciao Mom




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Kristen March 1, 2012 at 7:27 am

So amazing that such beautiful things can emerge from a place where no one said they could. What a wonderful story to share with your child.

Vinobaby March 1, 2012 at 8:15 am

Beautiful. Strong. Hopeful.

Thank you so much for sharing.

By Word of Mouth Musings March 1, 2012 at 8:24 am

So much strength, so much beauty, so much sadness out of which emerged so much joy …
You are an inspiration in all that you say and all that you do.
The blogosphere is richer for having you in it xxx

Wendy March 1, 2012 at 8:36 am

Only a cancer survivor can know what an odd blessing that cancer can be. (I was blessed, too ) Lovely story.

Leslie March 1, 2012 at 9:02 am

What a moving reminder of the joys that come to us via tragedies. Thanks for sharing!

K. C. March 1, 2012 at 9:19 am

You have no idea how much I needed this! I have recently been “blessed” as well, and you have given me hope and a reason to see all the good out there. Thank you!

IASoupMama March 1, 2012 at 9:39 am

Just lovely! Your miracle daughter is the best reason for illness I’ve ever heard.

WalkingTom March 1, 2012 at 11:27 am

Thank you for sharing those words, they help so many ways.

Geri R. March 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm

I’m teary-eyed right now after reading this. I never encountered someone who’s very thankful to have cancer. I could just feel the emotion given by Elena. You’re such a brave woman. How long have you been fighting against cancer?


Robbie March 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Incredibly powerful. Amazing that you can see the blessings that came with the challenges.

Galit Breen March 1, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Ohmyheart, you. This? Absolutely SCREAMS strength and inspiration.

Elaine March 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Does this fall under the “everything happens for a reason” line of thinking? I think so. WOW, Elena, just so beautiful and inspiring. Thanks for being that for those of us who read your posts and for your daughter too. xo

Kir March 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm

What a heartfelt and inspiring letter, what emotion and bravery you showed us and what love you gave to your beautiful daughter. I am so verklempt with the honesty with which you poured out this love letter to the little girl who was meant to be born. Xoxoxo

Brandy @ Momwich March 1, 2012 at 10:49 pm

I’m so in love with this post. I’m thankful for my heart failure for so many reasons, too. I’m so glad you found your silver lining!

Maria @verybusymama March 2, 2012 at 1:29 am

Elena, all the best to you this month. This is so moving and it had me reading on the edge of my seat. It’s amazing to hear someone write that they are thankful for cancer…but its that finding the good in everything that helps us get through. Sometimes you don’t see it for a while, but there you have your darling daughter to remind you.

Missy | Literal Mom March 3, 2012 at 3:15 pm

I have chills. That’s so beautiful. And it’s NO WONDER you were picked for “Listen to Your Mother.” This is an amazing testament to the power of a mother’s love, Elena. And survival. I am so happy to know you.

angela March 4, 2012 at 9:59 am

This is such an amazing letter of strength and courage from an amazing mom to an amazing girl :)

Mandy May 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Oh! This was beautiful. And oh so very amazing.

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