Brave Strong True

Posted by:

By Kate Hendricks Thomas, PhD

When the oncologist called and told me they wanted to share the scan results in person, you knew better than to listen to me when I said I could do the appointment solo. I’d argued about needing a mammogram at all, skipped my first appointment, and never researched any details past Stage 2 – I just didn’t think it was possible. I’m supposed to be bulletproof, right? That’s what I spend my time teaching people – how to transition in healthy fashion from the military and “bulletproof the brain.” I’ve taught people about resilience for years without ever having a test like this laid out before me.

When they told us what was happening in my seemingly healthy body, we were slow to understand. We were so slow that I think the oncology team must have wondered about us a bit.

How could I have metastatic cancer?  

We have a 6-year-old. Right now, his favorite human is mommy. 

I have work I love and many, many things to do.  

People need me, don’t they? 

You got mad at the oncologist when she offered us a range – the number of years we still have together as a family. You thought she was selling hopelessness – after all, she has no idea what we are capable of together.

Her face was serious, though, and according to the interwebs, the estimate she gave us was actually generous. I wake up at 3am most mornings to plan for her range when the house is quiet. There is so much paperwork to do, so much to arrange. I’m afraid of missing a detail and forgetting to do something that will make it easier for you two to be happy and successful and comfortable when I’m gone. If I could plan and color-code my way out of cancer, I would’ve done so by now in these morning sessions.

I wish I could show you how much I love you. I think that we see someone’s character when times are tough and people are scared. So many disappoint in those trials, but not you. Over the last several years, we’ve had plenty of surprises and challenging seasons. Not like this, though. You know that this is something we will do together for a little bit but then you’ll have to shoulder it ALL on your own. Our home, our finances, our baby, his future. I wanted Dartmouth or something equally fancy for him. I wanted him to play soccer and I wanted to be his coach one season until he asked me not to anymore. I wanted him to swim in meets and I wanted to be a bit judgmental of his girlfriends. Will you please do all that for him?

You are more present now than even in those other times, when we were broke and doing too much studying and trying to make it in strange, lonely cities. I see your character and it makes me feel like Matthew will be ok. He has you.

I love you more, teammate.

* The blog title is taken from Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas’ book: Brave Strong True: The Modern Warrior’s Battle for Balance – a practical call to health for America’s modern military warriors and those who support them. Other titles by Dr. Kate can be found on her website.

  Related Posts