I Am Billy’s Mom

My story is a little different from most here. I am not a survivor, that is, my own body did not endure the assault of cancer to it directly. The cancer that I survived was my son’s burden. He unfortunately did not survive after a 3½ year battle with the rare disease of MFH that was a tumor wrapped around his spinal cord.

My journey was different, but survival was still my hard won destination. I learned so much from my son and his struggle. He had only just turned 12 when he left this world. The lessons about faith, kindness, love, and spirituality that I learned from him will stay with me forever. Billy showed such tenacity in his hold on life that his seventh grade peers remembered him with a plaque that says Hero. He showed us what true strength and the will to live really means. I did not have an easy road here, no one does I think.

One thing that was certain through all the long dark days that come and go is that I wanted to honor Billy’s memory and spirit. I completed my Business degree after starting 25 years ago, planning to get to a place where I have the time and resources to be able to do more. I do what feels right, getting involved in helping others. My other kids have grown and are moving on in their lives, so I have more control of my time. I volunteer at camp where all my children spent summer weeks during and after Billy’s cancer. I had the good fortune to meet a wonderful upbeat survivor who has inspired me to do the best I can at honoring Billy through a foundation that Billy loved the idea for, information for kids about cancer at their level. He never did get to see the product; I know he would love it, he was all about helping others.

My plans are to keep going doing better, for Billy, and for my other kids, and anybody else’s kids who just need the encouragement. Had you asked me 10 years ago, after watching my child die from cancer, what I thought of life, I would not have given the same answer. I had some dark days. But now, I see that as a survivor, after doing a lot of work and introspection and really looking in to me, I do have a handle on how I can make the best difference in the world. When things get hard, and I think about throwing in the towel, I think about Billy, and how in his short life and incredible challenges, through all the pain, he showed strength and compassion, and I think, if he could handle all he did, than my issues are minor. This clarity I would not have gained had I not dealt with this tragedy and pushed through all the emotion to emerge on the other side, a survivor.