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Cancer Can't Count to Five

A letter from mother to son

By Michelle DevonPublished 2 years ago 4 min read
Cancer Can't Count to Five
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

My Dearest Baby Boy,

Sometimes when you are sleeping, I watch you lying there, so peaceful. I believe with all my heart that the world would be a better place if we could all know the peace of a sleeping child.

You’re young now, but you’re strong and beautiful and perfect. One day, you’re going to grow up and you’ll think back on these times, and you’ll remember. When you do, I hope you remember how I am now, and not how I’m going to become. This is the mother I want you to see me as. I suppose if there is one consolation to this it’s that I will always be eternally youthful in your memories.

Right now, you don’t understand the big grown up words that are being said around you. You don’t understand what Stage Four means. You don’t realize that, even though you have learned to count to 10 now, that when it comes to Cancer, five doesn’t come after four. Four is as high as Cancer can count, my darling boy.

I know you don’t understand words like blood tests, and hospice and home health. You don’t even seem to notice that mama doesn’t have hair like the other kids’ moms do. You still touch my face when I’m sleeping and tell me, “Pretty, mama.” And so I am, because of you. The only thing you know is that mama sleeps a lot, and she doesn’t wrestle on the floor with you much anymore. In a way, I’m glad that’s all you know.

I could talk to you, explain things, but there are grownups who don’t understand things like this. I don’t know where to begin.

I love you. That’s where to begin. I love you. I wanted you so badly, and when they told me you were on your way to me, I was so happy. When you finally arrived, I wrapped my arms around you and held you close to me. Together, we cried, you and me, and the moment froze in time.

I will never forget.

There are things I will miss, like your graduation, your first girlfriend, your first car. Your father, bless his heart, will struggle through those things with you, and I know he will do just fine. He’s going to need you when I’m gone, and I think the two of you will learn to be the best of friends when you’re all grown up. Your father is a good man. You would do well to be like him some day. You have his chin and his lips, but your smile is your very own.

As you grow, there might be days you’re going to be angry with me for leaving you, and I want you to know that’s okay. It’s okay to be angry. I’m angry sometimes myself. Just promise me that when you are angry, talk to your father, or your friends. My friends and your father are the only things that kept me sane through all this. Don’t bottle it all up inside of you. And if you get angry with God, tell him. He’s a big boy, God is, and he can take a lot of anger from you.

It’s funny how priorities change when you realize the end is near. I am not fixated on memorizing every moment anymore. Instead, I can just sit back and appreciate each minute that passes, every second that goes by, grateful for one more breath, one more smile, one more tear.

I guess I sort of understand what it means to, “Live like you are dying.” I wish that for you, son. I wish that you could live like you were dying, appreciating every moment as though it might never come again, grateful for all the wondrous things around you.

Someday, I hope a long, long time from now, I’ll be somewhere on the other side waiting for you. I know when they tell me you are on your way, just like when you were born, I will be so happy. I will wrap my arms around you and hold you close to me. Together, we will cry tears of joy and reunion, and the moment can freeze in time for all eternity.

I love you, my son.

Love, Mom


Cervical cancer usually has no symptoms whatsoever until it is too late. Thousands of women die from cervical cancer every year. Thousands more are diagnosed and treated. When detected early, cervical cancer is almost 100% treatable, with a very low relapse rate. When caught in later stages, doctors often can’t do much more than make a woman comfortable while she dies. Cervical cancer can be detected through regular pap tests performed annually, or more frequently if abnormal cells are present. It’s not just you it hurts if you don’t get tested. Your children, husband, friends, family… please don’t wait and think it won’t happen to you. Get tested today.

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About the Creator

Michelle Devon

An award-winning author and professional dreamer....Michelle Devon lives on the southern Gulf Coast of Texas with five amazing parrots, and a very tolerant cat.

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