Over a year ago, I had an abnormal mammogram that required multiple biopsies to be taken from my left breast. This ordeal forced my family and I to re-evaluate our lives and also the role I play in our family. I’ll admit, I hear stories of women who have endured this battle and I’ve witnessed their courage, but I never knew that I would be challenged to possibly have to fight this battle.
I remember sitting in the chair in the biopsy room waiting for the radiologist to come in and brief me on the procedure. While they were prepping me for the procedure, I kept shifting in my chair and no matter how hard I fought it, I could not keep from crying. I had not yet been faced with mortality, like I had in that moment. More than ever, I felt it was a necessity for me to be healthy so I could care for my boys.
A woman in the room who was going to assist the radiologist tried to assure me that it would be alright. She said, “Ma’am, we don’t even know what the results are yet so there is no need to be worried.” At this point, I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I blurted, “You don’t get it. I don’t get to be sick. I have to take care of my youngest son as long as I can. He has autism.” Thoughts kept running through my mind. Who is going to care for Broden if I can’t? Will Mark have to retire? There is no way that we could put all of this responsibility on Hayden if I were sick.
Mark and I decided to focus on what we could control as the hospital decided on a plan on what to do next. There were discussions of going into surgery to get a better sample. It was scary to think of that plan coming to fruition, but at the time it seemed that there were no other options. Instead of sitting around by the phone waiting for a decision, we made an appointment with a special needs lawyer to set up 1st and 3rd party trusts for the boys and update our Wills. As the lawyer asked us questions to create the trusts, we realized that we were entrusting people to care for Broden who had spent little time with him since we have moved around his entire life.
Each time the lawyer would ask us a question about the trusts, Mark and I would sit and stare at each other for a moment before one of us would shrug and try to answer. In my mind, I’m thinking, “If we died next month, would the person we just named, know our son well enough to care for him?” The process was scary, but it reminded both of us of what was important. It was family and health. We needed to try and do a better job and talking about Broden’s needs to our family so if something happened to one of us, they could help.
A few weeks ago, my nephew, Connor, sent me an essay entitled, “My Special Friend”. He wrote about his cousin, Broden, with autism. Connor could have written about anyone, but he chose Broden. At ten years old, Connor could see how special his cousin is and what joy he brings to our family. He notices that he’s different, but what I admire is that in his eyes, different is ok. Actually, different can be pretty cool. I needed to read his essay and he helped me remember that our family will be there. The unknown is scary, but time is precious and should not be taken for granted. Due to the few days that Connor had spent with us at Thanksgiving, I could tell Broden had made quite an impression on him.
I’m grateful that after being seen at a breast cancer center in our local community, a blood test determined that I do not have cancer. The few months of that uncertainty last year still plague me, but I use this experience as a reminder of how grateful I am for the time I have with my family and the ability to care for my boys.