“We coped with it the only way we could.”
“It was devastating. It was torture to see her go through that pain and not be able to do anything. From losing her hair, to having trouble walking, swollen joints, and every other side-effect that occurred, it was the ultimate feeling of helplessness.
“We coped with it the only we could — being strong and having faith that everything would be okay. We had as much support as we could have asked for from family, friends, medical staff, etc. Within six months it took her from us.”
A Profound Change in Perspective
I asked Joseph if his experiences with triple-negative breast cancer changed his philosophy of life at all.
“Absolutely — it changed everything. It took my Mom away. It was a life-changing experience. You always hear ‘life is short’ and ‘appreciate what you have,’ but losing my Mom in this way really put all of that in perspective. Things that before appeared so urgent and important, either professionally or personally, now were just petty … to worry about all of these little things that at the end of day don’t matter. It made me stop and re-evaluate everything. I changed professions because of it — left the corporate world for the nonprofit sector.
“There is also a ‘loss of innocence’ that I cannot explain and is only truly understood by those who have suffered similar tragedies. I always believed in life that ‘things will work out in the end’ or things will always ‘turn out for the best.’ This was my first time learning that it’s not always the case. The worst possible outcome that you fear most can come true. Bad things do happen to good people.”
Reliving his mother’s struggle and sharing his feelings on the subject has not been easy. “Even saying it out loud now, it sounds so negative and cynical, but those who know me know I am a positive and fun-loving person. That will not change, and my Mom would not want that to change. But I do have a different reality now than before. Going through this type of pain changes you.”
“Capture more memories.”
Joseph has some advice for families dealing with cancer right now. “Take pictures. Shoot video. Capture more memories. I wish I took more pictures and video, but I didn’t, because doing so felt like I would be admitting there was a chance she would not beat it. Why take more pictures and video than normal? Why act as if you will never see her again, when you KNOW you will see her again?”
Next: Heartfelt Advice / A Generous Offer of Support
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