When I heard the words, "Oh, look, there's cancer", my first thought was how to protect my men (my husband and two sons). It has always been my go-to thought, as keeping them all safe is part of my love. Even though I have never thought I had enough power to keep them completely safe, I have always tried my best in my own silly ways.
When my boys were growing up, I hoped to keep them safe by loving them with all my heart. There is a wonderful passage at the end of the first Harry Potter book when Harry asks Dumbledore why Voldemort hadn't been able to kill him, despite his powerful magic. Dumbledore explained that it was really quite simple. Harry was protected by his mother's love. That made great sense to me, and when I sent each son off to college I knit them an afghan, repeated the Harry Potter story, and told them that this afghan was the embodiment of my love and would protect them. We loved the silliness of it, but it held great meaning.
As soon as I began my years long journey through cancer, the men in my life showed me a ferocity of love that humbles me still. They made it very clear to me that it was now their turn to keep me safe. My husband doted on me, covering me up (even during horrific hot flashes), drove me everywhere, and fretted over everything I did, sure I was doing too much. The hardest thing for him to do was to support my need to keep moving, but he did. He really wanted to wrap me in bubble wrap and keep me safe, but he let me be safe in my own way.
My oldest who was already in college, and a great caller, redoubled his efforts to call. No matter what was happening in his life, he called sounding upbeat and happy and made sure he had at least one funny story to tell me. Despite his own fears, he loved to remind me that I was 'kicking cancer's ass'.
My youngest son was still at home, and made sure to 'allow' me the freedom to fight it as I needed. He encouraged me to keep running and to work every day. Eating was my biggest challenge. I lost my sense of taste with the first surgery, and coupled with daily nausea, eating became a full time job. My son would come home from basketball practice on my worst days and get to work in the kitchen. He assured me he would keep cooking until I could eat something, and he did. Knowing how much it meant to him, I tried harder than ever to get something down.
While I am well today, the ferocity of their love continues. They freely tell me how much they believe in me, how proud they are of me, and how much they love me. When I wrote my book, my oldest son designed the gorgeous cover and my youngest was my editor. Did cancer break our family? It did not, despite great effort. We are here. We are healthy and we love each other with a ferocity of love that keeps us safe, for today.