Between the produce and dairy sections of Harris Teeter, the little girl who inspired Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-tankerous Mommy turned to me and said, “by the way I’ve been meaning to tell you, I found a lump in my breast.”
My daughter, Tabitha is now 20 years old, she was four when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. In my chapter of HOW WE BECAME BREAST CANCER THRIVERS, I shared how during my diagnosis I was grateful it was I who had cancer, and not one of my children.
Until the test results came back indicating that Tabitha’s lump was a benign intraductal papilloma, I walked around in what’s best described as a funk. I won’t be completely funk-less until the surgery that’s required to remove her lump is behind us. (It’s scheduled for Oct.7th)
“Every lump is not the lump,” one of my survivor friends consoled me, but it’s one thing when you’re faced with breast cancer, and quite another when it’s your daughter.
I knew the casual manner in which Tabitha broke the news was for my benefit, and I should have hugged her, but instead I demanded to know why she hadn’t told me sooner. (Cause, I’d been out of town and she hadn’t wanted to worry me.)
Upset and mad was how I felt. At her age she shouldn’t have to worry about lumps in her breast.
On the other hand I realized she’s lucky she knows to be pro-active—knowledge is power.
I’ve always advocated girls need to be taught it’s okay to touch themselves, become familiar with their own bodies, and learn to do self-breast exams. However, when Tabitha was 13 years old, I was stunned when during an interview to promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month she told a reporter, she never thought she wouldn’t get breast cancer. I felt regret and guilt.
Like most parents I’ve often felt conflicted between instilling awareness without scaring the living daylights out of my kids. That interview was one of the times I questioned my judgment.
Then and today my daughter has assured me that breast cancer is not something she worries about. Why would she…I had it and am doing just fine, and as she has pointed out, unlike her mother, she doesn’t worry about something until it actually happens to her.
I suppose that’s what makes me the mother.