I would be lying if I said I wasn't worried or nervous for her. I would not be telling the full story if I said, "It's just another day." Today is not just any other day. Today is scary. Today is tiring. Today is real. Today is filled with suspended reality. Today begins the first day of thirty which finds my child tethered to a table undergoing proton radiation to stop the growth of a brain tumor. In all honesty, cancer just stinks, but in this battle with cancer comes a lesson - an important one for each of us, and when I remember the lesson, those feelings of angst quickly subside to larger, deeper, more positive emotions.
Just as quickly as I typed my fears,I am overcome by the sense of relief, of calm, of peace which comes my child being surrounded by people who love her. Text messages, private messages, and phone calls have bombarded her with reminders she is loved by so many people. She is also blessed by a kind, state-of-the art, intelligent medical staff who care for her like she is their own red-headed, 23-year-old. She is also going to emerge from this journey a stronger, more passionate person.
Yesterday, as we were driving to Minnesota, I asked her how she was feeling. She admitted she was nervous, and she was looking forward to putting the first day behind her. "Once I know what to expect, I can move on," she said. Then, after pausing a few seconds, she continued, "I've learned a lot about what is most important, Mom. Life is way too short to worry about small things, and every one of us has a choice in how we respond to what life throws us."
Within her wisdom comes comfort for each of us. We have choices in how we respond, and at this point, the best choice for us is to not succumb to those moments of doubt or lurking fear, but to take this on with bravery, grace, and patience. We have much to learn from her.
She has decided that each day of her radiation, she is going to post an inspirational quote on Instagram with the day and #LizStrong. Today's quote is quite fitting, and I'll leave you with this Nelson Mandela thought: "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."