Mother with daughters in the kitchen


How Breast Cancer Brought Our Family Closer

Mar 24, 2020

I have always prided myself on being capable, self-sufficient and independent. On being driven and able to figure out how to get what I want, then revaluate what I want if my plans fell short.

Some might liken that to being a control freak, and they wouldn’t be wrong. When you feel like you’re in control, it creates the perception that you won’t feel hurt or disappointed ever again, because hey — you’re calling the shots here.

When I was diagnosed with cancer at 36, I started to lose that false sense of control. And I didn’t like it. At all.

Find out how Leisse talked to her kids about both her breast cancer and her divorce here.

All of a sudden, my days fell to the mercy of waiting rooms and medical appointments. My body, at times, felt like a human pin cushion. I was physically unable to go to many places for fear of germs (during chemotherapy), and there were days when my energy was so low, all I could do was rest on my couch, recovering.

I learned quickly that I would have to learn to ask for help, in the right way, from the right people.

"I learned quickly that I would have to learn to ask for help, in the right way, from the right people."

So many of us, especially as women, have been conditioned to see asking for help as a sign of weakness. “I should be able to do this on my own! What will they think if they find out I can’t?” The reality is that most of us can do “this” on our own, but not without sacrifice, and usually unhealthy ones. And often they come at the expense of our own mental or emotional health and well-being.

Some of that is generational, and some of it is just an old narrative that we are so often bombarded with, leading to being overwhelmed. When we are used to doing things by and for ourselves, there is also that fear of being disappointed and the general belief that no one will do it quite as well as we can, so what’s the point?

Going through the health scare of cancer, followed by months of treatment and surgery, I had to learn to accept help from my family. I learned that I just could not do it alone, and that in order to function smoothly as a family and as a business owner, I would have to ask for help. I learned how to ask for the help that was actually helpful (my aunts staying with us, cleaning, cooking, friends driving me to appointments that required me to be medicated), versus what I viewed as useless help (taking anyone up on their offer to bring food — this for us was not of value, and I had to say no).

Know a family going through something and are wanting to help? Find five ways to look after them here.

I learned in this experience that the world did indeed keep turning if it wasn’t just me doing it all, and it kept right on turning if someone did something differently from how I would have done it.

This softened me, and it softened my edges. It all but forced me to relax a little more and allow myself to receive, something that has been a challenge and a vulnerability of mine.

Throughout this process our family dynamic became so much deeper, richer and more connected because we had this shared, supportive experience that taught so many lessons on the nature of unconditional love.

And in doing so, this brought us closer together as a family. 

Article Author Leisse Wilcox
Leisse Wilcox

Read more from Leisse here.

Leisse Wilcox works in influencer marketing and brand strategy, is a mama of three and wants to spend the rest of her life laughing and listening to Motown by the lake.

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