Being a Young Mom with Breast Cancer

Michelle was a 36-year-old, mother of two when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This mother’s day she shares her story on being a young mom with cancer.

Michelle Friesen - Mother's Day

“There’s never a good time to receive a cancer diagnosis, but sometimes it feels extra unfair that I’m battling breast cancer while my kids are so young. Wrangling two kids under the age of four is exhausting during the best of times, let alone when undergoing treatments that often leave me feeling like a shell of my former self. Some days I’m afraid that my babies are being shortchanged. That they’re not getting the best of their mom. That I’m letting my family down. And that sucks. It feels worse than any cancer treatment.

There are days where I have to choose between taking care of myself and taking care of my family.

Admittedly, I can’t do it all, and asking for help doesn’t come naturally, especially in a culture that demands nothing less than perfection from moms. My family is fortunate, however. We have an army of family and friends helping us, supporting us. It’s something all cancer patients deserve, but not everyone gets, so I feel very lucky.

Speaking of lucky, a cancer diagnosis at the age of 36 has made me take stock of my life in a way that very few people my age have to face. My priorities shifted massively the day I got my diagnosis. I don’t sweat the small stuff nearly as much. I’m more patient and I’m just so darn thankful for all the wonderful people and things I have in my life. On the flip side, I’ve had to face my mortality sooner than I ever expected. There are the times when my mind goes to dark places and I worry about what the future holds. What if the cancer comes back? What if I don’t get to see my children grow up?

Michelle Friesen - Mother's Day

But there’s little time for pity parties, and worrying about things I cannot control is unproductive. My kids absolutely do not give a heck that I have cancer — and I mean that in the best way possible. They still need their mom as much as they ever have. They continue to be relentlessly demanding, and they’re the best distraction I could ask for. I also remind myself that they’re so young they likely won’t remember much from this time. If they do remember this time, however, I want them to remember me as their superhero Mama. Someone who fought with determination, humor, and grace, and who let others carry her when she needed help.

I’m currently halfway through my chemo treatments and I’ll face surgery and radiation later this year. It’s a lot to think about and some days it feels overwhelming. But cancer has taught me that I can only control so much and that the best I can do is to take things as they come, one day at a time.”

– Michelle Friesen

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