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Meredith Israel Thomas Headshot

Scared to Death

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I used to fear death, and the thought of my parents dying always made a shiver go up my spine. I would watch Terms of Endearment and call my mom hysterically crying telling her she can't go anywhere and how much I love her. She would laugh and say she isn't dying and to stop watching that movie. Then the movie Stepmom came out and once again, the tears came in buckets. Sadly, the movie Terms of Endearment has become my life. I am the daughter who is going to die before her mommy, and that is heartbreaking.

When I was diagnosed with stage 4-metastic breast cancer my fear of dying went away. As long as I wasn't in pain or going to suffer, I wasn't scared. A different fear came over me. A fear of leaving my baby girl without her mommy. She's only turning 5-years-old this year and the thought of not being there for her as she grows up into a young girl, teenager, young adult and a lady breaks my heart into pieces. Nothing scares me more.

Who is going to talk to her about her first crush, her period, buying her first bra, her first dance, how to avoid mean girls and catty girl fights, and teach her about boys and makeup? There is so much a mommy does for their children and I am petrified of not being there for her. My mom and my girlfriends have promised me that they will always be there for Niomi. They will teach her all of these things, but they aren't her mommies. I should be the one teaching her all these things and knowing I won't be there isn't fair.

I sometimes want to lie in bed with her, shut the door and lock out the rest of the world out. I want to tell her how sorry I am that I will not be there for her, how much this all sucks and how worried I am about her and her daddy being without me. But she's so young and I don't want to scare her. She's already aware of the cancer and she's scared enough.

Life isn't fair. People are killed every day; murderers walk away from their crimes while innocent people are hit with diseases or killed in freak accidents. Children who haven't even experienced life have terrible diseases or are abused. As a cancer patient, you can sit and feel sorry for yourself or live life in fear of dying. That is your choice, but I have chosen to take my fears and put them aside. I live for the moment, day by day.

One oncologist gave me a year to live when I was diagnosed, but the oncologist I chose to work with said, "I'm not giving you a time. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow." Of course I harped on the one-year date, but I also took what my oncologist said and used that on the days when I am most frightened or when a survivor friend needs a kick in the butt to live.

On June 26, I will be celebrating my third year of life in this battle, a day after my 39th birthday. I will never get over my fears of not being there for Niomi as that is what truly scares me to death, but until the day comes, I will live each day to the fullest. I will instill in her the most valuable lessons I can. I will teach her to be strong, to give her advice through letters, through videos and even through our little talks while she's falling asleep at night. But for now, we live day by day and that takes my fears away.

To follow my story, please click here.

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