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Keep Calm and Rock On—Despite Cancer

Blog_SharaMeyer_8-21-14

“I won’t give you up mom; you can be my mom forever.” Those were the words of my then three-year-old as we cuddled before bed on August 11, 2013. I held back the tears because I didn’t want to upset her. My three- and four-year-old daughters weren’t aware that I was diagnosed with advanced Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma just three days before. Our world was about to be turned upside down!

Due to my stage IV cancer diagnosis, my husband, two young daughters and I moved to Houston, Texas for the next four months so I could receive the best treatment possible at MD Anderson Cancer Center. My step-daughters stayed in Kansas with their mom, meaning our family was fragmented, leaving everyone without three primary members of our support system.

The Hardest Challenge

Four months of challenging treatment followed, and managing the medications, side effects and parenting my two little girls at the same time was the hardest challenge I have ever faced. During times when the side effects limited my strength and stamina, I also experienced extreme sadness and guilt because I couldn’t meet the needs of my girls. My heart ached when I didn’t have the physical or emotional energy to help them get their jammies on at night or make them lunch during the day.

After starting treatment, we told the girls that I was really sick and told them the sickness was called “cancer.” We said we hoped that the doctors could stop the cancer so Mom could feel better. They usually didn’t seem too bothered by my sickness or the fact that we moved thirteen hours away from the only home they knew.

No Big Deal

However, one memorable and heart-breaking moment occurred when I told them I was going to cut my hair short because the medicine was making my hair fall out. I also told them that I would eventually be bald. My four-year-old fell on the floor in tears because she didn’t want me to cut my hair. I pulled her up in my lap and told her that I was still going to be her mom just with short hair, then no hair, but it would grow back. My three-year-old then said, nonchalantly, “Yeah, she just won’t have any hair” and went back to playing. From that moment forward, throughout my treatment, I tried to mirror my three-year-old’s attitude… no big deal, just do what you need to do and get on with it! Keep calm and rock on!

How has adopting a “Rock on” attitude helped when you’ve faced challenges? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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14 Replies

  • By Angela m privette

    So precious. . I lost my mom to breast and spine cancer, I remember when she lost her hair, I never thought about it as a bad thing. .. as long as I had my mom, it was ok if she was bald.. I miss her so very much. I wish you all the best sweetie. . You ARE A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN. ..

  • By Nadiza Bulkowski

    I never adopted a “Rock on” attitude, it just comes naturally to me. When I was diagnosed with ms in 1988. When I had a stroke in 2011. When I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer 7 months ago. Having a “Rock on” attitude helps me because it allows me to focus on enjoying my life. Not just “living” my life, but really and truly enjoying it, complete with lots of laughter.

    For Shara: Having small children and dealing with cancer, at any stage, but especially at stage 4, is far more challenging than dealing with stage 4 with grown children like mine. My heart goes out to you and your family. And keep up with the “Rock on” attitude, it will benefit all of you!

  • By David Parente

    Keep in rockin and punching!

  • By Danielle Wendt

    My newlywedded husband was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer three weeks after we were married last month. His two boys 11 and 13 live in Oregon with their mom. We have not figured how and when to tell them yet and I just wanted to say thanks for posting it helps to read other people are getting through!

  • By shara

    Thanks for the comments and encouragement!

  • By Summer Bettes

    LOVE YOU!!! YOUR ONE OF THE STRONGEST AND BRAVEST WOMEN I KNOW! I AM PROUD AND HONORED TO CALL YOU COUSIN! WE ARE ALWAYS HERE IF NEEDED, ALWAY THINKING AND PRAYING FOR YOU ALL!

  • By Laura

    Shara, there are so many lessons we learn from having cancer and many are taught by those people God puts in our path….little people included. Last week a dear friend sent me a plaque that reads “You never know how strong you can be until strength is your only option.” So…. Rock on, Sister!!!!!

  • By Robyn

    Shortly after I was diagnosed with Stage 2 anal squamous cell carcinoma, we ordered bracelets that say “KICK BUTT CANCER!” So I’m ROCKIN’ ON as we speak!! Thank you for sharing your ROCK ON story! <3

  • By Jason

    Shara,

    Three things come to mind as I read this. You have the soul of a saint, the love to hold our family, and the heart of a warrior! I’m so thankful to be your husband and to be by your side no matter what. I love you, Jake

  • By Jerry

    It’s the best attitude to have with every situation. You do the best that you can do and move forward. You are amazing. Your girls are amazing and your husband is amazing… but don’t tell him I said that.

  • By AMY DAVIS

    Oh Shara, I can’t tell you how in AWE I am of how you and your family faced and handled your challenge!!! It may sound weird, but I counted it an honor and a TRUE blessing to be able to take you and your concerns to the feet of Jesus daily and sometimes many times a day to ask for healing!!! God is SO good!!! I continue to pray for you for continued haelth
    for the remainder of you life!! God has a GREAT PURPOSE for you and your story~~~~~can’t wait to see it all play out!!! Love yo BUNCHES!!! Psalm 46:10

  • By Virginia

    I don’t know you Shara but I send you so much love! Your family and complete strangers surround you with love. Your attitude is inspiring – keep “rocking on”!!!
    xo

  • By Christian

    Hi Shara, :.)
    My name is Mrs. Derryberry. I have been reading different peoples stories on Caring Bridge. I had a friend
    whose 10 yr old daughter who was in need of two kidneys. It was a long journey for their family. The daughter is doing great now. Her surgery was a success. I kept in contact with the family through C.B.
    I am convinced that all the prayers raised up for her were heard. So with all this said, I would like to extend my prayers on your behalf if that is ok with you. How are you doing right now ? It seems like you have an amazing family.

  • By Peggy

    You’re a strong woman. I admire you.