Your Story is a series by WonderfulWoman where you will read inspiring Guest Posts from women around the world. Here they share their experiences, stories and things that matter most to all women.
Today’s Guest Post is by Sarah Muoio from youremymom.com. Sarah is a professional content writer who recently joined the wonderful world of personal bloggers. Her passion is writing and she aspires to raise awareness for Pediatric Brain Tumors (childhood cancer) and Epilepsy by sharing the story of her four-year-old son’s medical journey. Through Anthony’s infectious personality, she and her son work to inspire others to be supportive and kind to everyone they meet. Sarah loves music, relaxing on the beach, and being an active member of the Milford Elks. Her mornings are powered by Instagram and coffee. Read on this amazing story of her life surviving all ups and downs and emerging a winner with her cute little son!
The Power of Motherly Intuition-Childhood Cancer
“I can’t do this!” I told myself as we pulled up to the hospital, for the third time, with my almost five-month-old son. He had been sick for days and he wasn’t getting better. In fact, the opposite was happening. He was getting worse. I fully trusted my doctors and knew they were good at what they do, but something inside me was telling me that they were SO wrong. I wasn’t willing to leave it up to chance when it came to my son. The love I had for him, the desperation I felt watching him suffer, and the Mother’s intuition that was tugging at my insides took over completely. Let me tell you…thank God it did!
Finding My Voice against childhood cancer
I was always the type of person who went with the flow. If you had told me when I became a Mother that someday I would be a forceful advocate for my child, I wouldn’t have believed you. I was pretty laid back and, more than anything, I never wanted to ruffle feathers. I had grown up the youngest of six children in a blended family. I was almost always laughed at by my siblings when I talked about my own feelings or my own opinions. And if I wasn’t teased, I was dismissed. Because of that, I learned to agree with everyone and everything and do my best to keep a low profile and not go against the grade.
So, I would normally accept what doctors were telling me about my son’s illness and do what they said for treatment. When it came to anyone else, especially myself, I would never have kept pressing the issue and going back to the doctor or hospital to find a different answer. After all, THEY were the experts in the world of medicine, not me. But this wasn’t just anyone who was sick.
This was my son. He was the only person in the world who fully relied on me to keep him alive. He was placed in my arms so I could protect him, care for him, and love him. And now, I had to fight for him. Without a thought, that’s exactly what I did.
As we pulled up to the hospital, I had told myself, “I can’t do this!” But walking through the doors to the children’s emergency department with my lifeless son, something inside me screamed, “I need to do this!” I can’t fully explain what happened to me at that moment, but the best way I can describe it is that “Mama Bear” took over. Walking into the hospital that last time, I insisted something was wrong with my son and I was not leaving until the medical providers found out exactly what it was.
I might not have been an expert medical professional, but I was an expert in my unique role–being Anthony’s Mom. I knew him better than anyone. And because I had the intuition to trust my gut, despite what the professionals had told me, my five-month-old baby, who was fighting for his life that day is now a four-year-old pediatric brain tumor survivor.
I found my voice amidst the chaos in those trying, scary, and dark times. I found my voice through my son. I found my voice because he needed me to speak for him. And although he couldn’t verbally tell me what was wrong, I knew simply by looking in his eyes. I knew that my son was serious, seriously sick. That desperate moment empowered me to fight. It forced me to stand up where I would normally surrender. I found the courage to be a forceful, opinionated Mother who refused to accept the doctor’s diagnosis. I knew they were wrong even though multiple doctors told me the same exact thing-it’s just a virus. My son was fighting something more serious than a virus. I knew that deep down in my gut and I wouldn’t stop until someone else knew that, too. I learned a lesson that day. I learned that no one, even the most knowledgeable person in the world of pediatrics, NO ONE knows my child the way that I do. I learned that day just how important my job is as a Mother. And just like any other Mother would do, I learned how to fight for what I know is right for my child. I am thankful for that lesson every single day. It saved my son’s life.
Have Confidence in Your Role
Our ride through life has not been what you would call smooth. At times, it has been filled with fear, anxiety, desperation, and sadness. I have seen my son cry more than most parents see their children cry in a lifetime. I have watched him suffer and witnessed him in excruciating pain while not being able to play my part as his Mother to nurture him, pick him up, and smother him with love and affection. Even as I have held him close and rocked him in my arms, there have been times where I couldn’t provide him the comfort he needed when he needed it most.
My heart has broken a million times for this child. But, it has also been so warmed and fulfilled by a love that many will never experience. The trials have been tough, but they have also opened my eyes to the beauty of our life together. A beauty that I might not have seen had we not experienced the heartache that’s come with this battle. I truly believe that my son’s illness stopped me in my tracks, forced me to slow down, and brought light to the most important parts of life. I’ve learned to enjoy my role as a Mother. His medical journey has reminded me to stop and smell the roses. Believe it or not, in many ways, it has been a blessing in my life.
Like most Mothers, my son has been the greatest blessing I have received. And surprisingly, it has been his illness that I am most thankful for. Through my promise to find the purpose for his pain, I have been blessed as I have watched my son turn struggle into opportunity. In his survivorship, he has touched the lives of many, many people. And through his amazing personality and brilliant smile, his story has helped build awareness for others fighting the same disease he did A way of paying it forward for the awareness others built before my son’s story began. An awareness that created a cure so he could survive his pediatric brain tumor. So, although there have been many difficult mountains we’ve been forced to move, there have also been many blessings throughout our journey.
Advocate for Your Child
Some days, I still have no idea what I’m doing. Other days it seems like I’m hanging off a cliff by the tips of my fingers. Still others I feel like the thing I fail at most is being a Mom. But in my doubts, there is one thing I know for sure. There is no one better at being Anthony’s Mother than I am. It’s what I was put on this Earth to do. I am a certified expert in the role I play as his Mother and I am confident in my knowledge and my abilities in that role.
Four years ago, I threw caution to the wind and became a voice. I became a voice when I had spent much of my life being silent. I learned a powerful lesson that day. Never again will I be quiet when it comes to my child. I saw first hand, the importance of speaking up for your child, of being their advocate. I learned how important it is to trust your gut, even if others are telling you you’re wrong. I learned the power of being a voice for your children. I learned so I could teach others. I strive to teach others how crucial it is to speak up, to trust your gut, to ask questions, to demand answers when it comes to your children.
We tell our story. We talk about our journey. We talk about the good times, but we talk about the bad times even more. We talk about the bad times so others can learn from them. We talk about the bad times to raise awareness. We desire to show others struggling with similar battles that it is possible to overcome what you once thought was impossible. We talk about the bad times in hope that others can experience good times because of them.
I don’t tell our story so others can feel bad for our son or tell us how strong we are as a family. I tell our story because I promised my son that there would be a purpose for his pain. Four years ago, my son was dying. Today, he is thriving. He is thriving because my intuition leads me to say something. My intuition forced me to be his advocate. I knew something was wrong, I trusted my gut, and I became the voice necessary to diagnose his illness and cure him.
If I could help just one Mother through my hardship, there would be a purpose in my pain, too. Moms, I tell you this! Trust your gut. You might be wrong, but you also might be right. And, if you’re like me, I would rather be wrong a million times and have opened my mouth each time than be right the one time I could have said something, but didn’t.
Advocate for your children. Fight against childhood cancer. You’ll never know if being a strong, forceful advocate will make a difference for your child. But you’ll also never, ever want to look back and have regrets as a parent. And you’ll especially not want to look back and find that you could have done something to help if you had only said something. Learn from my experience. You’ll never know if standing strong will make a difference, but you’ll be overcome with emotion when you find out your voice was the influential factor that saved your child’s life. Be an advocate for your child. It could be the difference between life and death.
Connect With Sarah
Her Blog youremymom.com