Lessons From My Daughter

“Coffee with Companions” is an original series by MAKKER that captures personal stories shared over a cup of coffee. Today, we brew a bold cup (extra Cinnabon creamer included) and learn how our children can be our greatest teachers...

My daughter was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia when she was 4 years old. It was a 3-year journey that ended the best way possible. My baby is turning 15 later this year and is in what I call “permanent remission”.

You never really completely recover from an experience like that. No one could have told me, and nothing could have prepared me for the depression afterwards. Going through it, you’re just trying to survive and deal with the situation at hand. It was only once I had a chance to reflect on the experience, did I really understand what we went through. I am now a stronger and better person because of the life lessons my daughter taught me during this time.

One of my favorite things I learned from her is that you are fine just the way you are. Because she was only four when she got diagnosed, the concept of self-image wasn’t completely formed. The few times we went out, she had had to wear a mask and we’d sometimes wrap a bandanna or scarf around her head as she’d lost her hair. I tried not to make a big deal about it because I had noticed that she’d react in line with my emotions – so I’d go with the flow and let her decide.

In public, people would stare; some would ask questions, others would just sympathize. But she was a trooper and was oblivious. It was almost as though she was saying, “I don’t care what these people think; I’m fine the way I am.” As adults, we’ve conditioned ourselves to care what people think and what they might say. But seeing her brush off that expectation was just so awesome to see as a parent!

Another lesson that stays with me is the need to remain humble. A lot of the time, we get so caught up with the minutia of life – material things like the car you drive or how your kids behave in public. When she got sick, my priorities shifted. All that mattered to me was her health and well-being.

An experience like that can really break you down, but it also helps you gain perspective on what matters in life. I now know that no matter what I go through, it will never compare to what I went through when my child had cancer. And it’s not as though things will never be bad – I just feel as though I’ve been through one of the hardest things life could throw at me and I made it through. In the end, you need to just keep pushing forward.