I was scrolling through TV on Sunday afternoon and came across the movie, The Family Stone. It’s about a son who comes back to visit his family during the holidays, with the intention of asking his mother for the family ring to give to his girlfriend.

There is an underlying story line that the mother is dying from cancer and will not be around next year for Christmas.

The movie was originally released in 2005. I remember watching it back in 2005 in the movie theatre with my husband seated next to me. I remember crying at the end of the movie, when they gather around the Christmas tree one year later after the mom had passed away.

The big difference between watching it then and watching it now was, I’m a breast cancer survivor now.

When I first saw the movie back in 2005, the idea of me being diagnosed with cancer was non-existent. The possibility of cancer never entered my mind. Afterall, I was the healthiest girl in the room. I’m sure the reason I cried the first time I watched the movie was because it was a sad story to witness — not because the idea of cancer scared the shit out of me.

This time around, I watched the movie in my bed under the cozy covers by myself, knowing what was about to happen to the matriarch of the family. I knew the mother was going to die of breast cancer. I knew the family would gather around the Christmas tree and cry because they missed their mother.

I couldn’t turn it off.

I wanted to watch.

It was like passing an accident on the road: you know you shouldn’t turn your head to look at the wreckage and you need to keep your eyes forward so you know where you’re going. I couldn’t help myself — it was uncomfortable to watch and yet I didn’t turn away. I was sad. I sat there in my bed and cried at the last scene. Not a heavy sob, but gentle tears flowing down my face.

I watched the movie family go on with their lives without their mother and that left an uncomfortable feeling in my heart. I knew it was only a movie, but I also knew the story was too real.

As I made my way downstairs…

I could hear my therapist’s voice in my head asking me, how did you feel watching the movie again?

My answers came easily, and I rambled off a list of reasons why I felt sad:

…it’s sad when a mom dies of cancer

…I had cancer and I’m a mom

…the movie hit too close to home

…cancer sucks

…I don’t want to die that way

…I don’t want to get cancer again

I reach the bottom of the stairs and remember I have laundry in the dryer and dinner needs to be cooked.

I am allowed to go back to my real life now. The life that is cancer free. The life that has a loving husband and three great kids. I know how much I love my life post cancer. But, I am also aware how cancer rears its ugly head from time to time and how that still deeply affects me.  At times I rely on a team of people to help me rise above that despair. Other times, writing it down and sharing helps too.

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