09/22/2014 03:28 pm ET

From Lymphoma Mom To Just Mom, And Holding

Photo by Selina Boertlein c/o SBPhotography via Getty Images

When I was diagnosed with marginal zone lymphoma last October, I fell into weeks of dysfunctional shell shock, followed by months of chemotherapy.

My 11- and 14-year-old sons adjusted to my thinly veiled melancholy, my chemo fatigue, my easily frayed nerves and the meals people made us that they deemed other people’s leftovers. I needed to prove myself present and necessary, so rather than ask them to help out (I am a single parent), I’d lose my temper and leave them feeling bad for not intuiting what I needed. My illness shifted from being a sad thing to being a sad and annoying thing. No one wanted anything to change, but almost everything did.

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