A Mother-Daughter Bond Transformed by Childhood Cancer

by Sharon Frankel
May 9, 2014

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Lauren and her mom
With Mother’s Day approaching, I can’t help but reflect on my life as a mother, which began on July 10, 1997, with the birth of my daughter, Lauren.

Sharing the bond of mother and daughter is beyond words. Ours was forming even before her birth. From the first of her movements in utero, I had dreams for her future and our life together.

From the moment I looked into Lauren’s big blue-green eyes, I recognized she was a special being. She possesses an understanding of others and the world around her which I cannot fathom. Lauren perceives the good in people, even those who repeatedly disappoint her. Anything she sets her mind to, she accomplishes. She would have it no other way.

Newborn Lauren and her mom

Sharon and Lauren the day after she was born.

Two years ago, our lives were dramatically altered. Lauren was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma, a type of cancer in children.

Nothing could have prepared me for hearing the doctor say, “Your child has cancer.” How could my beautiful, perfect 14-year-old daughter have cancer? She was rarely ill, in the top one percent of her high school class, a competitive dancer, a violist, and a friend, cousin, niece, granddaughter, sister and daughter. She was my daughter.

Lauren and her mom, October 2001

Sharon and Lauren at 4 years old.

After telling Lauren she had cancer, she made me promise not to cry in her presence. This has been so difficult for me. Many days and nights I found myself screaming and crying silently. There were moments when I was by myself in my car and I would scream and cry until I felt like I was convulsing. I have vivid memories of crying myself to sleep in the hospital, but not allowing Lauren to see me in a state of terror and sadness. I had to remain strong for her.

Throughout Lauren’s treatment, I remained by her side. Mothers and daughters share a special closeness, but the countless days and nights spent together in the hospital have given a new meaning to our mother-daughter relationship. When she is happy, my heart is exploding with joy. When she is hurting mentally or physically, I also experience her pain.

Even though I am not able to make everything better and give her back the time she missed as a teenager during the 16 months she was in treatment, I know I made it less lonely. We shared days together, both laughing and crying. We spoke about life, our dreams, and our future. We both have learned about ourselves, and I would never take that back.

Lauren and her mom when Lauren was 3
Since Lauren’s diagnosis, I have felt the unbelievable power of her hand holding mine, her touch, her voice, her smile, and her eyes looking at me. I have realized the harsh truth of our life with cancer, when living is beyond difficult. I have gained a sense of compassion which only comes with walking in these shoes. I wish Lauren did not have to know a life filled with sickness, but we have become closer and stronger because of it.

Lauren and her mom
To my daughter Lauren, I can promise to always listen to what you say and what you do not say. I will always tell you the truth. I will always support you in whatever you chose to do in life because it is your journey to have.

I am not perfect. I have and will make mistakes, but I can promise to always do my best to recognize these mistakes.

I will always love you. I will always be your mother, and you can always count on me.

You are, and always will be, one of my proudest accomplishments in life. Witnessing your development into the young woman you are today is something I relish.

Lauren, my daughter, I love you with all of my heart. You truly are a gift from God.

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