USA: Seasons of Friendship

USA: Seasons of Friendship

I have relationships on the brain. I think many Americans do. In the aftermath of a highly contentious election, I observe people from all sides publicly and privately sorting through the complex ways this political cycle has affected their relationships. It got me thinking further about the mindset I bring to my own interactions.

As a child, I was incredibly sensitive with an overwhelming need to be liked and included. I would often take things personally and want to find the path to acceptance with everybody. Through the years, I learned that we are drawn naturally into friendships with some people, and less so with others. I also learned that there are people who most likely will never be your friend. The key to that sentence is “most likely.”

There was a time when the open-ended implications of “most likely” would stress me out. I like things tidy and compartmentalized. If it isn’t working, I want closure. I prefer to know where I stand with someone. However, relationships are a two-way street, and I can only drive the car in my lane. Plus my need for definitive boundaries does not supersede the natural fluidity of relationships over time nor does it allow room for change. Real life relationships are layered, and two people may connect on one level but completely miss on another. And the more time people have together, the more intricate it can become.

These days, I am finding freedom in allowing relationships to come and go, wax and wane, without feeling the need to define the who/what/why. There are friends whom I cherish that I haven’t seen in years, and there are people whom I would love to get to know better. I am always intending to schedule time with these folks, yet life gets in the way. Putting in effort is important, but I am accepting that just because things aren’t happening now doesn’t mean they won’t happen again someday.

Then there are the people with whom I share messy and contentious experiences, and we aren’t as close as we once were. There are also those I intentionally walked away from to escape toxicity. These packed the biggest punch for me personally, and I still mourn each break.

Rather than beating myself up or blaming someone else, though, I am recognizing that there are seasons to all relationships that don’t have to have a definitive beginning or end. I want to allow the distance, the dissonance, or the lost time to be what it is and doors to remain open for whatever the future holds while I try to grow from each experience and gain new perspective.

This really hit home for me after touching base with someone with whom I share a tumultuous history. We have had moments when I think there will be no reconnection, and then life circumstances come along to bring us back together in a meaningful way. It seems new phases bring possibilities for relationships to be reborn or evolve. Not all will, of course, but you never know.

This may sound incredibly obvious to most, but it takes practice for me, especially as I watch things play out for my children. I have seen friends come in and out of their lives, and I have witnessed situations that make me hurt for them. We have discussed how it’s OK to have different seasons for their relationships. Maybe connections need time to be rekindled, or maybe things will always have a hard limit because that is the healthiest choice. But there have been some rocky starts that have turned into great relationships as all parties have matured, and a big part of this is due to the forgiving nature of children and the willingness to start again.

In the effort to build up a child who has suffered a broken friendship, it seems easiest to say ,“It’s their loss”, or, “Who needs them?” Sometimes, we as adults do this too. But the reality is that paths often cross again. Maybe nothing will bear fruit, but what if it does? If we are open to new beginnings or willing to go back to old conversations with a fresh perspective, perhaps those relationships can grow again. And if they don’t, we can allow things to play out without cynicism knowing spring will come again someday with someone else.

How do you navigate changing relationships in your life? How do you help your children do the same?

This has been an original post for World Moms Network by Tara B. Photo credit: Chalky Lives. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.

Tara Bergman (USA)

Tara is a native Pennsylvanian who moved to the Seattle area in 1998 (sight unseen) with her husband to start their grand life adventure together. Despite the difficult fact that their family is a plane ride away, the couple fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and have put down roots. They have 2 super charged little boys and recently moved out of the Seattle suburbs further east into the country, trading in a Starbucks on every corner for coyotes in the backyard. Tara loves the outdoors (hiking, biking, camping). And, when her family isn't out in nature, they are hunkered down at home with friends, sharing a meal, playing games, and generally having fun. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and sharing her experiences on World Moms Network!

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INDONESIA: Navigating Stranger Danger

INDONESIA: Navigating Stranger Danger

stranger dangerRecently, while checking out at the grocery store my 6-year old daughter wandered a few aisles down to chat with someone while she waited. In child-friendly Indonesia, this is pretty common.

Though my son is generally more wary of people, my daughter is naturally outgoing and enjoys “making friends” wherever we go – usually chatting away in English about school, her friends, her cat, etc.

My son soon went over to join her while I finished paying. As I started to wheel the shopping cart in their direction, I looked up to see that my daughter was giving this man a giant hug around the waist.

My stomach lurched.

Somehow we’d missed out a key lesson from Stranger Danger 101.

We quickly left the store, parked the cart on the sidewalk outside and discussed the fact that it’s not appropriate to hug or touch people that are not our friends or family. I left it at that for the moment, yet days later I found myself still reflecting on the experience and how cultural variables have shaped my thinking.

Growing up in the US, child safety rules were ingrained from a young age, including the widely used “stranger danger” warning that is intended to keep children safe from adults they don’t know.

In Indonesia, it is not so black and white. Typical rules such as “Don’t talk to strangers” can be tricky, if not impossible. Jakarta dwellers are extremely friendly and it is common to talk with and be approached by strangers wherever you go. For me, these kindly interactions are one of the joys of living here and it’s often the presence of my children that sparks the most interesting exchanges.

Another rule, “Don’t accept gifts from strangers,” can also be difficult to avoid. My children have been offered sweets by security guards and local treats by waiting area strangers. We may not always partake of these offerings, but there are times when it would be impolite to refuse them.

Children in particular attract a great deal of attention in Indonesia and strangers frequently pinch cheeks, touch hair and even take photos. My kids don’t usually appreciate this, but it can be a good opportunity to explore personal boundaries and what is comfortable or not.

Not long ago, an adoring Grandma-type reached out to stroke my daughter’s hair while she was washing her hands in the airport restroom. My daughter recoiled and then shouted “NO! I don’t like it!” at the top of her lungs. Although she probably shocked the small tour group of elderly ladies, her boundaries were clear.

In terms of larger safety concerns, it is interesting to consider how perceptions of danger in different contexts – and perceptions of safety – influence my parenting.

The recent article by Hanna Rosin,”The Overprotected Kid,” raises some important points about these perceptions:

“When you ask parents why they are more protective than their parents were, they might answer that the world is more dangerous than it was when they were growing up. But this isn’t true, or at least not in the way that we think. For example, parents now routinely tell their children never to talk to strangers, even though all available evidence suggests that children have about the same (very slim) chance of being abducted by a stranger as they did a generation ago. Maybe the real question for sharing is, how did these fears come to have such a hold over us? And what have our children lost—and gained—as we’ve succumbed to them?”

Like any parent, I want my children to be safe. However, I don’t want them to grow up in an atmosphere of fear and mistrust. To me, rather than emphasizing stranger danger, it seems far more useful to instill confidence and teach them to recognize and avoid certain situations, rather than people in general.

I hope that I can equip my children with the skills, knowledge and strategies they will need to protect themselves and be safe but not scared. Obviously, it’s an ongoing process but one that is particularly important for our family as we move between countries and as our children grow up and encounter new situations.

How do you navigate cultural norms and perceptions related to child safety?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Shaula Bellour, mother of twins and now living in Indonesia.

Photo Credit: Wilson X . This image holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.

Shaula Bellour (Indonesia)

Shaula Bellour grew up in Redmond, Washington. She now lives in Jakarta, Indonesia with her British husband and 9-year old boy/girl twins. She has degrees in International Relations and Gender and Development and works as a consultant for the UN and non-governmental organizations. Shaula has lived and worked in the US, France, England, Kenya, Eritrea, Kosovo, Lebanon and Timor-Leste. She began writing for World Moms Network in 2010. She plans to eventually find her way back to the Pacific Northwest one day, but until then she’s enjoying living in the big wide world with her family.

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BELGIUM:  What If Your Boss Is the Bully?

BELGIUM: What If Your Boss Is the Bully?


If you Google bullying, there is a whole plethora of websites to choose from. Most of them deal with how to prevent your kid from bullying, how to react when your kid is bullied/being a bully, how to talk to your child about bullying.

But what if it is you—a fully grown adult—who are being bullied and there is really nothing you can do about it because the bully is also an adult…and your boss? And you cannot afford to lose your job.

Here is the situation: years ago I worked for a small, family owned business (You will understand why I do not name any names). I can best describe my boss as the Belgian cousin of Miranda Priestly, the Devil-boss who wore Prada. Believe me she had her down pat. From the sneering “that’s all,”  the calls outside work hours, the berating because I could not divine her thoughts and causing her to suffer the indignity of having to actually tell me what was expected, the pout…

Oh yeah, they were related all right.

After little more than a six months, I was actively looking for another job. And then, a week before I planned to resign and tell her to go do something to herself, I found out I was pregnant. And the game and the world as a whole changed completely.

We had just started building our house, there was no way my husband’s salary would cover all the bills and finding a job while you are pregnant is not easy.

So I stayed on. But it was obvious right from the start that they did not like the idea of having a young mother as employee.

Since I was competent at my job they had no reason to fire me outright and because Belgian legislation is rather protective towards pregnant women in the workplace, it became almost impossible to fire me when I handed over the medical bill announcing my pregnancy.

And so the bullying started.

Little things at first. Saddling me with a huge amount of work half an hour before I was due to clock out. Making a mess of the client contact database, insisting it was my fault, even though there was actual proof that it wasn’t.

But when they noticed that I was relatively unaffected things got BAD. In capitals.

While the company was closed for the summer holidays I got a letter detailing every little thing that I had done wrong after I announced I was pregnant. And I really mean everything, like putting one (1!) sheet of paper for an invoice the wrong way up in the printer causing them the loss of a whole eurocent in paper because I had to reprint the page. After that it got even worse than you can imagine. Belittling me in front of clients, calls at all hours, at all times, screaming, yelling, throwing. One day I came into the office to find that my boss had emptied my trashcan all over my desk. Fun times… I can tell you.

You must wonder how I dealt with the situation. Well, I hate to disappoint you, but I did not deal with it.
No, that is wrong. I did deal with it, but not in the way you might imagine. I did nothing.

I showed up for work, I let them scream, I let them yell, I let them belittle me, when they called at 6am on a Sunday I answered the phone and made no complaint. Nothing. When I arrived at the office I did my job. Business as usual.

This was my defense strategy. I did my job and because I continued to do it well, they never had an excuse for firing me.

Yes, I could have filed a complaint for harassment and started a legal procedure. I even started collecting evidence in case I should one day be forced to do so. Chances are very good I would have won, since the evidence was pretty rock solid. Yet, this was never really my intention. I was 29 at the time and legal procedures in Belgium can take a looooooooooooooooooong time. Dragging my employer to court would take ages, it would cost a lot of money and it is the kind of thing which haunts you forever. I still had my way to make in the world, my career was just beginning. A court case was likely to follow me around for my whole life and I did not wish to bring this kind of baggage with me.

I collected—and still keep—the evidence just in case.

In retrospect, I should have gone to my doctor, explained the situation and asked him to declare me unfit for work. But I did not do that. As soon as it was legally possible I resigned and the happy dance I did on my last day of work might have come straight out of a Broadway musical. I never looked back.

Has this situation ever happened to you? What did/would you do?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer in Belium, Tinne of Tantrum and Tomatoes.

The image used in this post is credited to Elizabeth Atalay.

Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes

Born in Belgium on the fourth of July in a time before the invention of the smart phone Tinne is a working mother of two adorably mischievous little girls, the wife of her high school sweetheart and the owner of a black cat called Atilla. Since she likes to cook her blog is mainly devoted to food and because she is Belgian she has an absurd sense of humour and is frequently snarky. When she is not devoting all her attention to the internet, she likes to read, write and eat chocolate. Her greatest nemesis is laundry.

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ISRAEL: Part IV of IV: Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer

ISRAEL: Part IV of IV: Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer

Neta sat down with World Mom contributor, Susie Newday in Israel to talk about living her life with metastasis breast cancer.

Neta sat down with World Mom contributor, Susie Newday in Israel to talk about living her life with metastasis breast cancer.

This is part two of our contributor and oncology nurse, Susie Newday’s, moving and in depth interview on breast cancer with her good  friend. Grab a cup of something warm, and come be a fly on the wall with us, as two friends discuss living with metastatic breast cancer. There is something for us all to learn.

(To catch up, click here to read Part I, click here to read Part II, click here to read Part III.)


Susie: What has changed now after your husband has also been diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer?


Neta: When two parents are sick it’s something completely different. In the past when I used to feel unwell or weak, I could allow myself to go to bed because I knew he was around. In the evenings he would be with the kids and I didn’t have to be there. They saw me at lunchtime when I gave them lunch, they saw me in the afternoon and it was no big deal for my husband to make the kids dinner and be there with them. Now there isn’t that option. He goes to work. He’s also exhausted in the evenings and he climbs into bed. In the beginning he had more energy but for the past few months he’s been exhausted when he gets home from work. I don’t have back-up anymore. It’s very hard without backup because you can’t allow yourself to be tired for even one day. I have to function at a different level than what I had been functioning at before.


S: Did you tell your children when you were diagnosed?


N: Yes. All three times; when I was first diagnosed, when I had the recurrence and when my husband was diagnosed. We consulted with a psychologist about how to tell the kids. We told them the truth. We told the boys and girls separately because there is an age difference between them.  I don’t remember the first conversation being very traumatic. The kids were also younger. They didn’t really understand. They were surprised and it was the first time they had heard the word cancer. We told them that mommy has breast cancer and it’s not so bad, a lot of people get better. I told them that I’m going to get treatment and I have the best doctors who are going to help me recover. There is going to be a period of time that I am going to get strong treatment so the cancer will die. I don’t remember any tough reactions or trauma.

When the cancer came back it was a little tougher because the kids were already older. My two older children cried. I didn’t tell them it was terminal. I was told not to say that because no one knows how much time I have so not to limit it by time. I told them that the cancer was back and that this time it was in my bones as well and that the doctors had found the reason for my back pain. I told them I was going to go for treatments now so that I can cope with the cancer. Again I told them that I had good doctors and that I was in good hands.

When my husband got sick less than a year ago, telling the kids was traumatic. When we told our older daughters the younger one sat there and cried. My older daughter was angry and yelled What??? It’s not fair!! You’re sick already. Now daddy? She cried and yelled at the same time. It was a very tough conversation. She already understood as this was the third conversation she had gone through. I started to cry when she started screaming “it’s not fair”. My husband spoke, my younger daughter and I cried silently and my older daughter cried and screamed. The conversation with the younger boys was easier, they didn’t really understand as much. They know that daddy has cancer in his belly and mommy has cancer in her bones

I worry a lot about the kids because obviously it’s very hard on them. My oldest is very angry with God. She’s not willing to pray anymore. I understand her anger. I’m angry too. How can this happen to both parents? With my second daughter I see more sadness.

We haven’t really had any more outright conversations about our illnesses with our kids. There is the day to day coping like if I’m not feeling well then my husband will put the kids to sleep. Or visa versa. So the kids know when we’re not feeling okay. The other day my youngest who is 6 1/2 asked me how much longer are you guys going to be sick? When are you going to be healthy again? I explained to him that it is a very tough disease and it takes a very very very long time to get better. I can’t explain to him that you don’t get well.


S: Physically, how do you manage? With yourself, with the house, the kids.


N: It’s not easy. In areas that I feel are less meaningful and more technical,  we have help. We have someone who cooks and someone who cleans. We had someone to fold laundry and we will probably use her again. We used to have a babysitter in the afternoons. Now we have the kids in afternoon programs. In the areas I can release and get help, I have done so. There are certain things I’m trying to keep as is,  like having everyone sit down for dinner together. I try to make sure that there is always food in the house. It comforts me to know that there is food in the house and there is what to eat.

It’s a pity to waste energy on things that are not meaningful. I save the energy for things that make me feel good, like if the kids want to go shopping, even though it’s already tough for me to walk a lot.


S: What has been the one most difficult or scary thing that you have gone through since you were first diagnosed with cancer?


N: When I lost my eyesight. Not being able to see was really scary. You lose your connection to the world. I was also very confused. It was a real trauma. After my eyesight came back I was afraid to fall asleep at night because I was afraid that maybe when I woke up in the morning I wouldn’t be able to see again. In general, the scariest thing is losing your abilities. Suddenly, I won’t be able to see. Suddenly, I won’t be able to walk. Basically, it’s about losing your independence. It’s very important to me to be independent. I’m very afraid of becoming dependent. Losing my eyesight meant losing my independence. I needed people to be with me, to go everywhere with me. It was a complete lack of control. Seeing is such an important sense and suddenly you lose it. You only hear and you lose your ability to do things. For me the fear of losing my independence was the worst. If you ask my husband, for him the fear of me being confused was worse. He was able to imagine being with someone who couldn’t see. He didn’t know how he could manage with someone who was confused. I remember the blindness as traumatic, my husband remembers my confusion as the traumatic part.


S: A lot of people want to support friends or family who have cancer but we often say or do the wrong things. Do you have any advice about what we should or shouldn’t do?


N: There is a lot of good will and a lot of people want to help but you have to remember to respect the person and the household. Like in the beginning, friends wanted to come and fold laundry for me but I didn’t want anyone to. That was something I could handle on my own. Also when people were cooking for me in the beginning, there was a constant stream of people coming in and out of the house bringing food. You feel like you have no control over what is going on in your house.

It was very important for us to return the sense of control over our household to ourselves, to conserve the sense of independence of our family. Our good friends who were a constant presence in our house beforehand did stay a constant and that was fine. Those friends also knew to ask beforehand. I told friends and family when it was okay to visit.


S: Sometimes, we say no because we don’t want to trouble other people and when someone insists on doing something anyway, sometimes in the end it is a big help and appreciated.


N: It is possible. Like the few times we’ve had company over in the past year and they wanted to wash dishes and out of manners I told them no but they did it anyways, it was appreciated.


S: Is there anything someone said to you that really bothered you?


N: It really annoyed be when people told me “Be Strong”. What? Like I wasn’t working on that enough? Another sentence was ” I’m sure it will pass.” What exactly will pass? Where is it going to pass to?  I am sure there were other things but I don’t remember anymore.


S: Were there people who found it hard to talk to you afterwards?


N: I don’t think so. People tell me that because I’m so open and speak so freely that it wasn’t so hard to talk to me. There were some people who told me they were afraid to talk to me at first but when they did speak to me the conversation flowed. I talk to people about what is going on. I don’t hide it.


S: It must be quite a financial burden to have all the help with the cooking and cleaning and other things.


N: It is. I’m not working anymore and I get a small government stipend. My husband is still working which is lucky. If he has to stop working, the financial side would be very tough.


S: So what things would you suggest that people do if they want to help?


N: Always ask. What is right for me might not be right for someone else. First ask if they want the help. Like with food, say “I really want to make something for you guys, can I?” If you got a yes, then offer a choice of what to bring so the person can pick something that is right for their family. Make sure to ask first because maybe they really don’t want anything. To bring forcefully is also not good because it infringes on their domain. It also obviously depends on how close you are to the person. To bring without asking doesn’t seem to be respectful of the home.


S: Any tips about cancer in general?


N: Go get checked! Every woman needs to be checked even if there’s no family history that you know about. Just go get checked. I really don’t know why they don’t start the screening from a younger age. I was diagnosed at age 38. If they would have done routine scanning from an earlier age they would have caught my cancer sooner and I would be in a very different position right now. I found it on my own and I found it too late. The difference between early diagnosis and later diagnosis is huge. After I was diagnosed, all my friends went to get checked.


You have to gather strength. We don’t know what life holds for us. Who ever imagined that I would have breast cancer and bone metastases? If you would have asked me six years ago, that wasn’t even an option. I didn’t even think of it. When we get sick, it will always catch us by surprise. We’re never ready to be sick. Even if we know there is a possibility, we are never truly ready. When it happens you have to rally a lot of strength and understand that we can’t control our lives and we just have to do our best. That’s what I try to do. I’m fighting the best I can. I can’t do more than that. Ever new day I try to find the energy to fight and I say to myself I’m fighting this. When you succeed in having a good day, it gives you a lot of strength to continue on. If you don’t do that you can sink emotionally and that can’t possibly be healthy. I think that the reason I am not sinking into depression is because I’m invested in doing.

Sometimes it’s better not to think too much and to just be busy. When I had time to think it was really not good for me.


S: What is your wish for world moms?

N: I wish for either a way to catch cancer early or for better drugs to fight it and cure it or at the minimum turn it into a chronic disease that you don’t die from. Breast cancer rates are way too high.


I wish for mothers around the world to enjoy every minute of their parenting because we never know when it will end. I was sure that I would raise my children and live to see my grandkids grow as well. Today, I am not sure I will even see my kids grow up.


We never know when we will leave this world. Don’t push things off. Don’t say when I retire I will do this or that. Parenting is a very precious gift that has no replacement and we don’t know how long we will be parents or grandparents for. Take advantage of now and don’t push things off. We went on a family trip overseas a while back and I am so happy we did. It was a great experience. It was better than having a new kitchen done, buying a new car or having the garden done.

The experience of motherhood, parenthood, of family is the most precious experience in the world, so invest in that and less in material things.


It took a lot of openness and strength on Neta’s part to do this interview series. I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart for having the courage to share her story so that other people might benefit from it.

As far as helping people who are going through any difficult time, be it medical or emotional, I think this article about the “comfort in, dump out” theory is a must read.


Cancer can happen to everyone. Listen to your body, treat it well and educate yourself about cancer symptoms. Learn not just about breast cancer symptoms (which are varied) but also the symptoms of ovarian cancerGI cancerlung cancerpancreatic cancer and all the other cancers out there. Ask your parents about your family medical history. Do the recommended screening tests that are available to you because early detection of any cancer makes a hell of a difference.


Most of all enjoy every minute of your life because there are people out there who are dying for more time.


Who hasn’t yet gotten screened and is now going to get themselves checked?

Susie Newday (Israel)

Susie Newday is a happily-married American-born Israeli mother of five. She is an oncology nurse, blogger and avid amateur photographer. Most importantly, Susie is a happily married mother of five amazing kids from age 8-24 and soon to be a mother in law. (Which also makes her a chef, maid, tutor, chauffeur, launderer...) Susie's blog, New Day, New Lesson, is her attempt to help others and herself view the lessons life hands all of us in a positive light. She will also be the first to admit that blogging is great free therapy as well. Susie's hope for the world? Increasing kindness, tolerance and love. You can also follow her Facebook page New Day, New Lesson where she posts her unique photos with quotes as well as gift ideas.

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ISRAEL: Part IV of IV: Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer

ISRAEL: Part I of IV: Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer

Neta sat down with World Mom contributor, Susie Newday in Israel to talk about living her life with metastasis breast cancer.

Neta sat down with World Mom contributor, Susie Newday in Israel to talk about living her life with metastatic breast cancer.

As a nurse working in outpatient oncology, cancer is something I’m surrounded by. As time goes by, I’ve unwillingly learned to live with the fact that it seems like cancer is taking over the world and affecting more and more young people. (I stink at statistics so I don’t have any hard facts to back that feeling but I seem to be seeing way too many young people undergoing chemo.) Yet even with the walls we build to protect ourselves from the hurt at the loss of each patient we have come to know, every nurse has a soft spot for certain patients. For me, it’s young mothers with cancer. I don’t know why. It just is. When the young mother being treated for breast cancer also happens to be your friend it’s even more heartbreaking.

Today is the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I thought that a personal story of someone living with Stage 4 Breast Cancer would do more to help raise awareness than just stating the facts and figures. By putting a name and a face to a disease we make it more personal. My friend graciously agreed to be interviewed in the hope that her story would help someone else.

Neta Eshel, is a 42-year-old mother of 4 children ages 6 1/2, 9, 13 1/2 and 17. She was diagnosed in July 2009 with Stage 3 Infiltrating (Invasive) Lobular Carcinoma. As far as she knew, there was no family history of breast cancer. She was treated with aggressive chemo, had a double mastectomy, radiation and more chemo. In September of 2011 her cancer came back. She has Stage 4 Breast Cancer with metastases to her bones.

Towards the end of 2012, Neta was hospitalized for a prolonged period of time due to a low platelet count. During that hospitalization, she woke up one morning and couldn’t see. After running a battery of tests she was told she had bleeding in her brain. She was confused and disoriented and her family braced themselves for the worse. Then, as if by a miracle, her sight returned, and she improved.

A few months later, before she even had time to catch her breath Neta’s husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer. As you can imagine it, that was devastating news. Their individual and combined strength in coping has been and continues to be an inspiration for their family, their community and their many friends.

Susie: Did you have any symptoms?

Neta: I felt a lump in the shower, and I went to get checked.

S: Do you have a family history of cancer?

N: Not in my or my parents’ generation. I didn’t know about it until after I was diagnosed but there was a history of cancer in my grandparents’ generation. That’s why there was no awareness. My father’s father had pancreatic cancer, one of his sisters had breast cancer and the other sister had ovarian cancer. There was also another brother who died of cancer. I’m not sure what type. Both of my grandfather’s sisters passed away when I was young, so I didn’t really know them.  On my mother’s side there is no history of cancer.

S: After you felt the lump what did you do?

N: I went to my family physician who sent me right away to the breast surgeon*. The surgeon told me to go immediately to the hospital. (*note: Here in Israel it is the breast surgeon who does breast screening.)

S: How long did it take from the time you felt the lump until you were diagnosed.

N: No time at all. Maybe four days.

S: What did they do when you got to the hospital?

N: First they did a mammogram. They then sent me immediately for an ultrasound.  After the ultrasound I had gotten dressed, and I stood up, and the doctor who performed the ultrasound told me straight out “you have breast cancer”. I was at a loss for words. I stammered… How? Why? What connection does cancer have to me? I was in shock. I asked her “How do you know?” She said she knows according to the way it looks on the ultrasound. She said it’s not 100% certain, we still have to do a biopsy but she was pretty sure that’s what it was.

S: You were alone?

N: I was with my husband. I understood it was something serious the way everyone kept sending me quickly from one test to the other, but I didn’t really understand.

S: Aside from the shock, how did you feel about the way she gave you the news?

N: I don’t think it would have been any better to wait anxiously for two weeks until the biopsy results came back. I would have been very stressed out from the wait. I wanted to know the truth, I was just in shock because the whole process was very quick. I suddenly went from being the healthiest person to be the sickest person. I didn’t need someone to beautify the reality for me, the reality was the reality. The bottom line was, I didn’t need the stress.

S: What thoughts and feelings were going through your head at that moment when you got the news?

N: I remember the shock. I remember thinking I am the healthiest person, how am I going to be sick now? I also thought about the kids and what’s going to be with them. I had no idea what to expect, no awareness about what treatment meant. I didn’t really understand the implications at that moment. Afterwords when I started to process it there was a lot of crying and anger and sadness.

S: How long did the processing process take?

N: I don’t remember how long each stage took. I do remember there being a lot of anger. Anger at God. Why me? What have I done? Why do I deserve this?

After you start to process you realize that the anger doesn’t give you anything so you move to acceptance. You summon energy for a war. From the beginning I said I’m going to fight this, I’m going to win. I don’t remember being depressed. I was very into “doing”. I’m going to fight. I’m going to understand this and what it means. I don’t remember any great depression. It was obvious to me that I would fight and it will be ok.

A few months after I finished treatment, in the summer, we went on an overseas family trip, and my energy returned. I then said that I need a little luck that the cancer won’t return.

S: When did the cancer return and how?

N: It started with back pain. Two years ago, in September of 2011, my back went out on the day of the first day of school. I worked as a high school guidance counselor. The back pain went on for a few months. I right away thought about cancer but I was afraid to get it checked out by my oncologist. I first went to get checked by an orthopedist. I did a bone scan and then was treated by a chiropractor for two months. It took about two or three months before it was diagnosed as a recurrence of the cancer. It was unbelievable pain. The pain came and went until it stayed.

S: What was different when you were diagnosed the second time? Was it the same shock?

N: The second time it was much harder because I understood that if it has returned, the situation is much worse. I always had the fear that the cancer would return. I hadn’t deluded myself that it couldn’t. I knew there was a possibility of it returning. It was much harder because I understood that if it has returned there is metastasis and I’m most probably not going to get rid of it. I understood what it meant and that’s why I was also afraid to get diagnosed and didn’t run immediately to my oncologist. I thought maybe my back just went out. People said to me, at one point or another back pain happens to everyone around the age 40. The shock was greater when the cancer returned because I understood that it’s not going anywhere and I can’t “get over it”.

***This post was truncated because it originally also included Part II.**

Tune in soon for the next part of a World Mom to World Mom 4 part series on living with metastasis breast cancer. The informative, yet moving, interview with Neta continues…

Cancer can happen to everyone. Listen to your body, treat it well and educate yourself about cancer symptoms. Learn not just about breast cancer symptoms (which are varied) but also the symptoms of ovarian cancer, GI cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and all the other cancers out there. Ask your parents about your family medical history. Do the recommended screening tests that are available to you because early detection of any cancer makes a hell of a difference.

Most of all enjoy every minute of your life because there are people out there who are dying for more time.

Do you have an experience of someone living with metastasis breast cancer in your corner of the world? 

(For the full series: click here to read Part Iclick here to read Part IIclick here to read Part III and click here to read Part IV.)

Click here to read Part IV of the interview.

Photo credit to Susie Newday. 

Susie Newday (Israel)

Susie Newday is a happily-married American-born Israeli mother of five. She is an oncology nurse, blogger and avid amateur photographer. Most importantly, Susie is a happily married mother of five amazing kids from age 8-24 and soon to be a mother in law. (Which also makes her a chef, maid, tutor, chauffeur, launderer...) Susie's blog, New Day, New Lesson, is her attempt to help others and herself view the lessons life hands all of us in a positive light. She will also be the first to admit that blogging is great free therapy as well. Susie's hope for the world? Increasing kindness, tolerance and love. You can also follow her Facebook page New Day, New Lesson where she posts her unique photos with quotes as well as gift ideas.

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