Shop the fall collection ➔

Some of us moms have fought one of the scariest battles of all. It’s a disease whose name causes hearts to race, faces to turn ashen, and rooms to fall dead silent.

To the moms who have conquered cancer, every moment is a miracle. Once we get the “cancer-free” announcement, we swim in gratefulness. We are grateful for every breath, each new morning, and for life itself.

Days stretch into years. Eventually we forget that once upon a time we had something called cancer.

Despite all the positive, however, many of us experience a strange phenomenon. Something is lurking. Someone is hiding in the shadows. 

It’s a robber crouching outside our house. He hides behind the bushes. He is watching us inside our safe, cozy home. He’s waiting for us to leave, waiting for a vulnerable moment. Then, when we least expect it, he will pounce, break in, and rip our treasures away.

He’s not out for our money. He doesn’t want Grandma’s diamond ring or our iPad. He wants something else. And inwardly, our sea is churning and turbulent. We fall prey to a premonition. We lock and re-lock our doors. We slam down the shutters. We draw the drapes, shutting out any fragment of light.

We pretend he’s not there until our restless imaginations take over. The thoughts begin as something seemingly benign. It might be that one day we notice how much of a sweet tooth our daughter or son has. We resolve to drive out that sweet tooth. We think, “Sugar is evil. I don’t want my child to get cancer.”

Or, on another day, we notice that we are sweating, deodorant pooling under our arms. Reasoning that we’re far too young for menopause, fear grips hold and we suddenly feel nauseated.

Perhaps we pick up on how tired we feel. We forget any logical reasons for our exhaustion and think, “Why am I so tired?” We remember back to the symptoms of our cancer and are fraught with worry. We remember the night sweats or the fatigue that confined us to our beds.

Some of us schedule doctor’s appointments to address the physical sensations, real or imagined. And we think, although we don’t tell the doctor, “Please, don’t say that my cancer is back.”

To the mom who has battled cancer and won, please know this:

You demolished the free radicals. You choked the malignancy with your own hands. You eradicated the tumors. Don’t let the thief rob you of your joy.

You won’t like this next part but take heed. You must go after the robber. I know it seems impossible but you have more strength than you know. Choose your weapon.

Rip your fear to shreds and leave it on the floor inside your house. Step outside your warm house. Take your best friends if you need to. Go outside to where the thief is hiding. Find him and pulverize him.

He has no right to be on your property. Drive him out. Call the cops if you need to or enlist your neighbors in the attack.

You have a right to live your life without fear. Don’t let the malignant thoughts take hold. 

It’s OK to still aim for exercise three times a week. It’s OK to go easy on the red meat, dairy and sugar. You can still make your funny smoothies with flaxseed and chia seed and organic kale. But, you don’t need to memorize the top 20 cancer-fighting foods. You don’t have to obsessively Google every ache and pain. Don’t call into being a disease that isn’t there, a disease that you wiped out long ago.

Once you kill the robber, trust that he won’t come back. He will never appear again unless you let him. And, once that robber is gone, leave your windows and doors open. Let the sunlight filter through. Believe that all that is outside your home is every positive thing. 

And, with the robber gone, give your husband a kiss. Tell your children you love them.

You deserve each day. You deserve every breath. You deserve to be floating on your back in a sea of joy, gazing up at a crystalline sky.

You may also like: 

How Having Cancer Changed My Life

Cancer Can’t Take That

Want more stories of love, family, and faith from the heart of every home, delivered straight to you? Sign up here!

Catherine Writer

I am a mother of two, who has just recently picked up creative writing again after a 16 year lull.

My Daughter is Almost the Age I Was When My Grandfather First Molested Me

In: Living, Motherhood
Back of little girl's head with braid and ribbon

Trigger Warning: Child Abuse My daughter is swinging, head tilted up to the sky, pondering the shape of the cloud—is it a puppy or a tiger? Or maybe a dragon? She picks a flowering weed from the yard and brings it to me, so proud of her gift for Mama. She sits down and draws one of her imaginary kitty superheroes and the tale of how it saves the day—her lips pursed, then open, then pursed again—concentrating as though it’s the most important story she’ll write in her life. I pull her close, breathe in all of her joy and...

Keep Reading

When Storms Come: How To Help During Hurricane Ian

In: Living
When Waters Rise, You’ll Struggle to Put One Foot in Front of the Other. You’ll Do it Anyway.

When waters rise and spirits fall, you’ll listen anxiously to weather reports from your neighborhood. You’ll watch angry waves swirling on the sacred ground of familiar streets. You’ll feel a sickening, sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. You’ll try to grasp fleeting thoughts of hope that maybe, just maybe, they’re all wrong. Surely it won’t be as bad, as devastating as they say. You’ll try to overpower Mother Nature by sheer force of will. But she is a determined and destructive houseguest. You’ll understand futility.  You’ll go through motions, completing necessary tasks in response to catastrophe. You’ll cry,...

Keep Reading

Things I Wish My Therapist Would Say

In: Living
Little girl looking out window

Things I wish my therapist would say . . .  Welcome. Sit down, have a tea or a big coffee. The latest studies say caffeine does wonders for your anxiety. Now, tell me everything . . .  You’re not crazy. But if you are it’s okay, all the best women in history were crazy. You don’t need medication. But if you do, it’s okay—I can get you some right now. You don’t have to call a thousand pharmacies or drive or wait, here it is. It will work right away and has zero side effects. You don’t have to change...

Keep Reading

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s…Jupiter?

In: Living
Boy looking through telescope

It’s a great week to gather the kids and train your eyes on the night sky—the planet Jupiter is bigger and better than ever! Well, at least it’ll look that way this week.   Jupiter reaches what’s termed “opposition” during the final week of September this year, and that makes for some fun stargazing conditions. Quick science lesson time: “opposition” is when a planet is directly opposite the Sun in the sky. And all those orbits out there in space have the Earth sandwiched between Jupiter and the Sun right now too, meaning our Solar System’s gasseous giant is closer to...

Keep Reading

I’ll Find Her Again One Day

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother holding baby at night

It happened again. Took 15 months this time. But I found myself in the same spot I said I’d never be in. Lost, drowning, on the brink of a mental breakdown—however you want to put it. I was gone in motherhood. With the diapers piling up around me, I was getting mad at my husband for nothing, screaming at my oldest son, crying along with the babies, and in a fog. RELATED: To the Woman Who’s Lost Herself in Motherhood I couldn’t do anything—literally—I couldn’t even pee without hearing a demand. When my children were quiet, my house billowed with...

Keep Reading

I Want Friends Who Grow Old with Me

In: Friendship, Living
Friends laughing

When I grow older, I want my friends to come with me. I want us to sit on porches sipping tea and watching the young walk by. I want us to scoot around on our scooters or on golf carts because none of us want to walk back home from the beach. I want us to sit in restaurants and order whatever we want because life has become too short and we know it, so cheesecake it is. RELATE: Life is Too Short for Fake Cheese and Fake Friends I want morning strolls together to get the willies out, and...

Keep Reading

To the Mom In the Trenches: Make Room For Yourself

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother and daughter on beach black and white photo

“I need to make room for myself,” I think quietly as I shove toys aside with my foot and toss the dog-hair-covered blankets onto the couch behind me. This endless carousel of shuffling clutter weighs on me, but I try not to dwell on that fact right now. Clearing a space for a quick strength class between Zoom calls requires almost as much effort as the class itself. Plastic play food and melodic baby toys lay strewn about the room (the whole house, really). Scattered LEGOs and Hot Wheels wait to attack unsuspecting bare feet at any moment. To say...

Keep Reading

“Old” Seems Less Old the Older I Get

In: Living
Mother and teen daughter smiling

Growing up, my grandparents hosted birthday parties that involved all of my dad’s aunts and uncles gathering around the kitchen table with a deck of pinochle cards dealt among them. After a few games, a “lunch” of sandwiches, cake, and hot cups of coffee would be served.  I remember looking at the people gathered around that table—wrinkled fingers raking in cards, deep, scratchy voices calling out bids and naming trump, laughter mingled with German words I didn’t understand. The kids were never invited to the table, only allowed to watch from the outskirts.  We were too young. And they were...

Keep Reading

I Love Being a Mom, But I Miss That Party Girl Sometimes

In: Living, Motherhood
Girl at bar in black tank top

It’s 7 p.m. on a Saturday night. Freshly showered and ready to take on whatever the night brings. I’ve just gotten dressed and am finishing up my makeup when the phone rings. “Hey, I’m about to leave in half an hour. Do you want to meet around 8 p.m.?” “Sure! I’m almost ready. I’ll be there at 8!” I say excitedly. I finish my makeup and start working on my hair when a text comes through. “Hey, Ash! Just wanted to let you know we’ll be there around 9 but we’re definitely going to make it! I can’t wait to...

Keep Reading

Christmas + ’90s TV Nostalgia? Yes, Please!

In: Living
Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, Andrea Barber Full House friends at wedding

Why is it that the older I get, the more nostalgic I become about the ’90s?  Maybe it’s because it was a simpler time: No social media. The only cell phones we’d ever seen belonged to Zack Morris from Saved By the Bell and Macaulay Caulkin in Richie Rich. The height of cool was owning a hair crimper and that clear corded phone (bonus points if it was connected to a dedicated teen line). And you knew it was going to be a great day when you started the tape recorder in time to get all of MmmBop! on your...

Keep Reading