Monday Moms: Blessings
By Jan Fergerson
At forty-nine years old, I was quite surprised to see a lump on my right breast. I had always been very healthy and never dreamed I would have cancer. Yet from the very first time I felt the lump, somehow I knew I was about to go on a journey like never before. I had two beautiful daughters in college and a husband who enjoyed his job and golf. I had a career that was also important to me and co-workers who counted on me. I made a call to the doctor who delivered my then twenty year old daughter. No other doctor would take my calls. I was not in their systems because I had not seen any of them since shortly after she was born. Remember, I had never been sick.
After a few tests, what I already knew in my heart was confirmed. The words, “It shows Malignancy” changed my life. It meant I would have part of my body removed; I would have chemotherapy, become bald, and get six tattoos for radiation treatments. But the blessings that followed those three words have far outweighed the challenges.
From the first day I felt completely enveloped in God’s arms. Angels appeared through the youth I taught at Sunday School. Our youth minister organized a letter writing campaign that insured I would get a letter every day during my cancer treatment. People I did not know called, sent cards, and prayed for me. Our oldest daughter, Jamie, came home the day my hair fell out. She, my husband, and I sat on the deck outside. Jamie ran her fingers through my hair, and we watched it literally blow away in the wind. Michele, our younger daughter, helped select my wig and put makeup on “Janna Kacki,” (known to others as a Styrofoam head for my wig). Michele and her friend Dustin (who is now our son-in-law) would come home to watch ball games, first our beloved Atlanta Braves and then as the time passed, our favorite football teams– the Bulldogs and Falcons.
Holidays were different. Our house had always been the gathering place for our extended family, and I always cooked for the crowd. That year, Jamie helped cook Thanksgiving dinner. Michele and Phil bought our first artificial Christmas tree and decorated the house. My family hosted a surprise fiftieth birthday party for me in January. Yes, my life changed after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had never felt more loved and cared for in my life than I did during my cancer journey. Eight years later, I am very grateful for the many blessings I discovered through my cancer journey, but I pray neither I nor my daughters ever hear those three words again.
In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Komen Atlanta has new online initiative called “Monday Moms” that gives mothers a chance to discuss the unique challenges of being a mother with breast cancer – for example, the impact on their families, how they’ve discussed their illness with their children, how they managed the pain of treatment with little ones underfoot, etc. Monday Moms also can give people whose mothers have breast cancer a chance to post their own challenges, points of view or questions. Our goal is to give people in this community a place to celebrate successes, mourn losses or just plain vent about their experiences with breast cancer. We also want to give people a space to share stories, create a dialogue with others and feel heard.