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My Happy Mother's Day

By Tina Lavelle
Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother’s Day means Sunday brunches, flowers, cards and presents. But for me, it’s so much more.

After being diagnosed with a brain tumor eight years ago, my perspective on life and what it means has changed drastically. Five weeks after my brain surgery, my beautiful 10-year-old daughter Lea was diagnosed with a brain tumor as well. Eight weeks after my surgery, I sat in Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s waiting room, bald and in a state of shock and disbelief. After the surgeon came in and told me that one of the main arteries in her brain had ruptured, the shock moved to total numbness. “How can this be, why is this happening? How do we make it through this?” was what was going through my head.

After Lea was diagnosed the next day with a second brain tumor, I watched in amazement at her strength and determination. She was getting sicker and sicker as the days went on, but I saw something in her that gave ME the strength to go on. As the swelling in her face got worse, her eyes swelled shut and she voiced her fear, I saw her believe in the words I told her, “It’s going to be okay, you’re going to see again, you’re not alone, the doctors are very good here and I wont leave you no matter what.” And I didn’t, not for work, not for anything, for my own sanity as well as her need for me to be near.

As the years have passed there has been a second brain surgery and many MRI’s, (some for 3 hours), tests, and weekly hospital visits. There is always that sick feeling of waiting for the results, the kind of “I am convinced I have post-traumatic stress disorder” feeling until I hear the results when once again I can breathe. Because if it happens again……

The people who can really understand this whole dynamic are people who have been through this before. When it’s a mother and child who have this in common it brings such strength to the relationship. There is strength in numbers, we all need support, we all need to know we have someone on our side, that we’re not alone. And being a mom to a brain tumor survivor is one of the best gifts this mother can get for Mother’s Day because she is my lesson in strength. Happy Mother’s Day to my daughter Lea and to all of the survivors who teach their moms how to persevere; you are the greatest gifts we can ever ask for!  

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