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Embracing Motherhood When Your Child Has Cancer (by Alex Scott’s Mom, Liz)

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By: Liz Scott, Alex’s mom 

When my daughter Alex was first diagnosed with neuroblastoma, my gut instinct was to avoid other “cancer moms.” 

I did not want to be a part of their group and hear about what was happening with them. Not only was I absolutely devastated to be a “cancer mom,” I was hopeful I would not be one for long and that Alex would be cured. I dreaded getting entangled in other children’s battles. 

There was no way I would ever embrace being a “cancer mom.”

That was 22 years ago and although I still dislike the term “cancer mom,” I have come to value the role this group of moms has played and continues to play in my life. Over the course of Alex’s life, I made friends with many moms whose kids had cancer and learned how much we had to offer each other. Not only could we cry together and share our deepest worries, but we could also share laughs over hospital stories or funny things our kids would say.    

I also learned how lonely childhood cancer is when you don’t have other moms by your side who understand your experience like no one else does. We joke that we belong to a club that no one wants to be in.

When Alex’s battle ended in 2004 that could have been my chance to leave the “club" and  avoid the world we never wanted to be a part of. But my daughter had other plans for me and left me a legacy to carry forward. 

Today, I am honored to be a member of this community of moms—some moms with children newly diagnosed with cancer, some moms who are veterans of the oncology clinic with long-term survivors and some moms, who like me, live without their child who died at the hands of childhood cancer.

No matter where our community finds ourselves, we all have experienced the pain of having a child with cancer, as well as the gifts they bring into our lives in spite of cancer.

In fact, we share so many of the same experiences that we could probably finish each other’s sentences. 

Here is what we might say:

  • Our world falls apart when our children are diagnosed.
  • We wonder how we will get our children through it, only to realize that THEY get US through it.
  • We rush to the emergency room with high fevers (always at 2 a.m., of course).
  • We try to follow our children’s example by rarely complaining (but we do anyway).
  • We watch our children on the playground as the other children stare at their bald heads.
  • We worry about our other children.
  • We make family plans only to have to cancel them.
  • We miss our other children’s school plays and sporting events.
  • We feel the contagious joy of all of our children, who still laugh every day.
  • We gain a new perspective on life.
  • We laugh way more than anyone expects us to.
  • We learn that no matter how strong we think we are, we all have our breaking points.
  • We embrace each other every chance we get because we are stronger together than we are alone.
  • We never stop believing in a cure, if not for our own children then for others.

So on Mother’s Day, I am sending a big hug out to every mom who has been dragged into the world of childhood cancer. I am not glad you are in the “club” but I am so grateful that you are in my life.

This Mother’s Day, Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation is proud to partner with Momcology, a national nonprofit that provides peer support for moms of kids with cancer.