National Care Givers month has opened a door for my family and I to speak about my cancer diagnosis. Living with MBC is a family diagnosis, and we are speaking openly about our life. I was diagnosed at the age of 27. My husband and I had just purchased our first home and our daughter had just turned a year old. This diagnosis went off like a bomb in our lives and we had to navigate life with cancer.
My daughter Mackenzie only knows a mother with Cancer. Mackenzie is wise beyond her years and when speaking with her about this, her words are truly touching and truthful.
Being so young when my mom was diagnosed I feared the worst. Especially when I was not around. I was always thinking about her, worried when she was alone. On her bad days I never wanted to leave her. I ask a lot of questions, especially after doctors appointments. I established a family meeting after every doctor appointment so I could hear everything that was happening. We speak about treatment plans, scans and I get to ask all the questions I need to.
Lessons I have learned: I look at life different. I don’t take my time spent with my mom for granted.
The little things matter. I love to feel involved, I like to feel like I am taking care of her. So I make her a cup of tea, sometimes rub her feet, or just sit with her and share my day with her. One of the things I have had to learn is to stop living in anger around her diagnosis. I used to get mad at the cancer and spent my time being angry with the diagnosis instead of celebrating that my mom is still here and fights everyday.
Dave: When Fabianna was diagnosed with MBC my first thoughts were; she won’t be around for the big important moments in life. Our daughter getting married, celebrating anniversaries and birthday’s. But we have learned that every moment is a gift so we celebrate life, daily.
Lessons I’ve learned: I have learned how important it is to take care of ourselves. My wife has taught me how important it is to take the little moments and make them big moments. A day at the beach, a day driving up the coast, a day spent in bed watching movies and holding hands. We embrace every memory we make.
Advise to another caregiver: Don’t be afraid to discuss how you are feeling. Express your feelings and emotions. Your loved one wants to know the honest truth, no matter how hard it is to hear. Communication between each other, with any disease, is key. Don’t dwell in the diagnosis, celebrate the small victories. Always remember there is more to the person than the disease. Compassion without pity.
Written by: Fabianna Marie, MBC ANGEL Advocate along with her husband Dave and daughter Mackenzie.