SPOILER ALERT...SOMEONE DIES
This isn't so much a story about cancer as it is about death, depression and moving forward.
Growing up I always considered myself TWO things -
1. A positive person
2. A mama's boy
Julian and his Mom
These were both challenged on October 20th, 2011 (funny how these dates are burned into our memories) when my mom looked me in the eyes and told me that she had stage 3 Triple Negative breast cancer.
"Well sh*t" I thought to myself. "I guess this positivity thing is about to get tested BIG TIME".
What followed for the next 14 months was a disaster.
Bad news after bad news.
Painful hospital visit after painful hospital visit.
Harsh and ineffective treatmeant after....okay you get the idea.
During this time of my life, I had just graduated college, but I put my job search on hold so I could come home and be a caretaker for my mom.
I adored this woman. She was strong, kind, beautiful and supportive.
So it absolutely broke my heart to have this constant first-row seat to her demise.
As any caretaker will tell you, you do everything in your power to help, but it's SOUL-CRUSHING to know that you can't do the ONE thing that would stop the pain, stress and worry.
You can't take the cancer away.
You show up. You try to keep things positive. You make sure all of their physical needs are met.
But every second of every day, in the back of your mind is this constant frustration that you can't REALLY fix any of this. You are just along for the ride.
So I played my part. I took my mom to her appointments. I made sure she was fed, comfortable and cared for. I kissed her and told her I loved her as often as I could. And (not to be dramatic here) I sat by and watched my mom slowly slip away day after day.
On December 7th, 2012, my mom passed away. Her spirit to fight could no longer be matched by her body's ability to press on.
And on that day, I lost both my title as a 'positive person' and as a mama's boy.
THIS IS KINDA DEPRESSING...
You're probably thinking to yourself 'GOD this is DEPRESSING...I thought this guy was going to catch us off guard with a positive twist at the end of that story or something".
Eh, not really. This part of the story IS depressing because I was actually super depressed (emotionally and clinically).
In a span of 14 months, cancer drop-kicked its way into my family's life, turned it upside down, and took away the person I love most.
I was lost in life. At a time when everyone expects you to just automatically be a grown up, I had lost the person who was my guide. I had no clue who I was or what to do.
Okay, here's the happy ending part.
I am going to skip ahead about a year because, hey, you're not missing anything (depression, self-loathing, drinking, etc, etc).
I began to move forward. I began to see some light in my mom's fight.
I began to see how brave she was. I began to see how she didn't just get stolen from me by some disease.
I began to see that even in the fight for her life, amidst all the pain, regression and bull shit, she taught me more about love, growth and living than i've ever learned.
She showed me that your circumstances cannot take away the powerful truth of your character.
During her battle with cancer, my mom never relinquished what made her beautiful, loving, caring and kind.
She maintained it all - her grace, her compassion, her selfless concern for others.
Even when she lost her hair, her breasts and her ability to walk, she STILL was a light. She still took care of those around her (to the best of her ability). She still took others into consideration ahead of her self.
She was still selfless even when her hope, energy and vital-signs were running low. She taught me first hand what it meant to fearlessly be your self and consistently stick to your guns, even when up against the wall.
My mom taught me how to fight in the most authentic, loving and impactful way.
Final (non-depressing) Thoughts
Losing my mom to cancer sucked. I miss her every day. I love her every day.
But something in my life profoundly changed when I gave myself permission to move FORWARD (which is WAY different than moving ON) from my mom's battle with cancer.
I grew astronomically as a result from losing my mom. I have recognized the preciousness of life and shaped my life accordingly as a result of losing my mom.
I have pursued my passions and purpose with a sense of love, compassion and fearlessness as a result of losing my mom.
And here I sit 6 years later, typing about how I am STILL a positive person and I am STILL a mama's boy.
I live by those unspoken lessons she so boldly exemplified by her grace, beauty and steadfastness as she courageously navigated the terrifying waters of a life-threatening disease, and things have worked out in a pretty awesome way.
So my big take away from all of this IS - whether it's cancer, loss or some other shit storm that life may throw your way, don't be afraid to give yourself permission to extract value from it. Moving FORWARD is different than moving ON.
Master the difference and enjoy the ride.
Julian is a coach, content creator and business owner who helps purpose-driven people bring their potential to life. He is 29 years old and travels the country with his wife Kirstin as they relocate every 3 months due to her role as a travel nurse. They have a big fat dog named Logan who enjoys naps just as much as they do.
Julian is the founder and CEO of The Fearless Life Project.
Julian and his wife Kirstin