By Sonia Lafreniere
As I see my baby girl trying to button her Elmo pajamas, as I hear my son kicking the soccer ball on our garage, I realize I feel blessed. I am alive. I have been giving a second chance, or in my case, a third one.
I will be able to hold their hands as they get older, and they will hold mine until I get old or until sickness strikes again. As survivors, we never know.
My cancer journey started four years ago; my life was disturbed four years ago. Cancer doesn’t affect only the patient, cancer affects everybody around you—everybody around me.
I remember my son, James, five at the time, pushing the coffee table towards the couch where I spent most of my days. He used to get the Spiderman memory game ready so I didn’t have to get up. He used to get the diapers for me so we could change baby girl. I am so grateful my kids gave me a reason to live and to fight, and they have no idea they did.
My husband was a big part of this journey. He took over. He held my hand and told me we were going to fight together. Men seem to say this all the time—well, Dave does, anyway. After a few months, I asked him to listen to me instead of trying to find solutions. He did. I disturbed his life and needed an ear to be able to talk about my frustrations and my weaknesses. He listened. I love him and am so grateful he kept our lives going, our family together. Gratitude.
I got tulips every Friday of my radiation treatment—my favourite flowers in the spring. Another week had passed by, depression and pain were kicking in, but my mother never forgot to bring me tulips to mark the end of the week. Another step closer to the end of the fight, another step closer to recovery. Gratitude. How can you tell your mom how grateful you are of her presence. Thank you, is it enough?
She always says this is not the cycle of life; parents don’t want to see their children sick. I knew I could go through this, but needed her to stay strong and not to cry with me. I wanted her to take care of herself and to hold my hand. I wanted her to stay beside me on my chemo days, and to see that I was not alone in this situation. I am grateful my mom was part of my recovery, and still is.
My dad is watching over me and my family. Even though sometimes I didn’t feel his presence, I know he was there in spirit.
My family was close by and did what they could. I am grateful my sister and mother were there when I rang the bell at the end of my treatment. I am so glad my sister told me I was the strongest person she knew. Gratitude.
Flowers arrived on Fridays, and a card (a real one, not an email or a text!) arrived in my mail box every Monday. My friend, Sue, believed in my power to get better and gave me the strength, through words—sometimes very funny—to get the show on the road and to attack the week to come. What a great friend. Gratitude.
I am grateful for YACC. It made me realize I wasn’t alone. It made me realize how cancer has changed my life and the priorities I have now.
I am blessed, dear YACC family. Some of us won’t make it. We know that. Some of us won’t make it, will never get the chance to hold their kids at night, to cuddle with the love of our life, to receive tulips, or to talk everyday to a mother as extraordinary as mine.
Today, the leaves are turning red and orange. Be grateful for that. For my dear friends from the YACC family that never got the chance to see them this year, I am grateful that you have no more pain, that you are in peace. Gratitude.