Once you've had cancer, you think of your own mortality. I wonder if I'll get cancer again — I've had cancer twice. I wonder if I'll get cancer a third time. I wonder if I will one day die from cancer.

Jennifer and her daughterI have this sense of urgency to make my life as fulfilling as possible because none of us know when God will be ready for us. An urgency to get as healthy as I can. An urgency to eliminate as much stress as possible. An urgency to continue to love this beautiful life. An urgency to laugh. An urgency to simplify.

What is most difficult for me, yet somewhat of a blessing, is having a daughter who is now 14 and with special needs. She does not understand that her mom has been ill. All she knows is she needs her mom. As I went through surgeries, I'd rest on the couch and recover. I had to tell her that mommy wasn't feeling well, so she'd be very gentle. She would give me an abundance of kisses and hugs. She often covered me up with as many blankets as she could — she loves her blankets.

She didn't understand I had incisions, stitches, drains and at one point a PICC Line. She didn't understand where mom was when she was hospitalized so many times. I was simply mom. My caregivers helped with my daughter tremendously during this time and always reminded her to be gentle. She is the most loving little girl, and the kisses and hugs I got during that time, and to this day … simply priceless.

My daughter doesn't understand her mom had cancer. Such innocence. Though a part of me wishes we could talk and she would understand, the other part of me believes it's simply a blessing. She defines unconditional love because it is all she knows. It is what she gives. She doesn't understand there is something as evil as cancer in this world. That cancer can take lives. She has no concept of that.

I don't dwell on my mortality, but it does cross my mind from time-to-time. I believe my daughter is the reason I don't constantly dwell on it. Though raising a child with special needs has challenges, more than anything, it has been a joy to raise her and watch her bloom in so many ways.

When my mortality comes into question, it's like something inside fights back because I know my daughter needs me. And I need her. She is the reason I need to be healthy, happy and as stress-free as possible.

I have a daughter to admire as she grows into a young lady, and I have hope. Hope that maybe one day there will be a medicine that will actually control her seizures — ideally put an end to them. If that happens, just maybe she will begin to talk. I don't want to miss that day. I want to grow old and see incredible strides made to cure cancer … and to cure my daughter's condition!


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Has cancer made you consider your mortality? Who inspires you to go on? Share your thoughts below.

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About the Author

Jennifer Pichelman was born in Racine, Wis. She graduated from Concordia University Wisconsin with an undergraduate degree in business management and communication. She recently celebrated 25 years with a manufacturing company in Racine and currently works in marketing. Jennifer was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1994 and underwent chemotherapy and radiation. Due to the radiation to her chest, Jennifer was told she had an increased risk of breast cancer, which her oncologist diligently screened for with mammograms and breast MRI's. She remained cancer free until December of 2012, when she was diagnosed with a secondary cancer, breast cancer. When a small mass was discovered after a mammogram, deep down Jennifer knew she had breast cancer. After biopsy results came back, Jennifer was formally diagnosed on Dec. 28, 2012 -- 3 days after Christmas.

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Amy Stueckroth
on June 7, 2018 - 12:24 pm

Jennifer, I love your blogs! I am in chemotherapy for breast cancer and have mastectomy, radiation and reconstruction ahead of me! I am inspired by you positive attitude and ability to see the beauty in everything you are going through! I have been dealing with my cancer in the same way and you give me hope to keep it up for the long haul! Thank you for touching the lives of those that read your blogs! I hope God blesses you with a long, healthy, cancer free life! I will pray for you and your daughter.

Marcy Hunter
on June 7, 2018 - 12:24 pm

God bless you and your daughter!