Today the LBBC blog would like to reintroduce Julie Clark, one of the women featured in the Faces of Metastatic Breast Cancer video. Julie is the author of a new children’s book, You Are the Best Medicine, providing an inspiring and heartfelt story about honestly sharing your breast cancer journey with your children. Here she offers our readers her moving words in two ways: for you and for the children.
beyond – n. something that lies farther ahead
I think about the words living beyond breast cancer, and I wonder if I am. Living beyond. The implication of those words is that it’s no longer with me – that I’ve left it behind. I envision a long-distance runner on a dry, dusty track, sprinting ahead of the others and leaving only tread marks on the path. In some ways I am that runner. Although diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2008, I am told that there is no longer any evidence of disease in my body. And for that, every day, I am grateful.
But some events in life stay with us always, like it or not. We do not move beyond being mothers, for example; we do not leave behind the sadness of the death of a loved one. Nor do we want to. Memory makes our lives textured and rich. And much as I have learned to live with the endurance of the long-distance cancer survivor, much as I want to move beyond this beast’s ugly and awful reality, the trick of cancer is its insidious voice whispering “Here I am” and its ability to keep up.
Were you a fighter before you heard the words, “You have cancer”? I didn’t know I was. But the instinct I felt when my daughters were born – that survival/teeth bared/depth of love/kill or be killed instinct – kicked in when I was faced with a disease that could rob me of my family, and I fought back.
I still fight back in a number of ways, every day. Once I learned the disease had left my body, I took exercise a lot more seriously. I ate lots of green things that I hadn’t tasted before, swallowed pills as round and dry as buttons, and gave myself permission to slow down – to breathe.
How can I find the strength to move ahead? I see my family cheering me on, their flags waving and their hands clapping. I look in my daughters’ eyes and I feel they have coached me for this, this powerful strength that blossoms from their hearts and surrounds me with a feeling of triumph. And, I realize, that this is what it means to move beyond. But even more important is the first word in the phrase living beyond breast cancer. It is that which we strive for – that beautiful adjective.
Living – adj. active or thriving; vigorous; strong
For a child, watching a loved one go through cancer treatment is scary. In this courageous and sensitive book, Julie Clark creates sweet and poignant memories that remind children how important their support is during a time when optimism and love are most needed.