Dear Cancer…Thank You.

Dear Cancer,

I hate you. My mom always told me that hate was a strong word…and I get that. So when I say I hate you, I mean it. I really hate you.

I hate you for making me picture what the future might look like, without me. Harper and Hudson without a mom, and Danny, without a wife. My babies need their mom and I’m not ready to give up. So, unfortunately for you, I’m still kickin’. You can knock me down, but I’ll keep getting right back up…watch me.

I hate you for making me spend so many days in bed, hurting, because I’m desparaetly trying to get rid of you. I’m a big fan of a nap, but I’ve never wanted to get out of bed so badly. I’ve got things to do and lives to change. I don’t have time for you.

I hate you for adding anxiety and stress financially. We work hard for our money…and now, it’s all being spent on you. First you took away my paycheck, but the bills, they keep on coming. All because of you. You’re pretty selfish. Inconsiderate. Evil.

I hate you for making the future so unclear. If you know me, you know that I’m a planner. I like to know how things are going to go. Well, silly me. I thought I knew what my plans were and what I wanted to do…now, things have never been so up in the air. And I hate it.

I hate you for keeping me away from my kids, not allowing me to be the parent I want to be…and I used to be. I hate you for taking my energy and strength, keeping me from playing with and loving my babies…for making my legs so weak that I can’t carry my baby up to his room…for insisting that I have to sit on the floor to play with my kids, and not run around and play hide and seek.

I hate you for making my 4 year old grow up so much faster than a child should. For forcing her to learn about cancer, and to try to understand why mommy doesn’t have hair right now. For forcing her to understand that mommy doesn’t have the energy to play like she used to. For forcing her to realize that mommy isn’t like other mommies, for now.

I hate you for forcing me to wonder and worry about what I’ll do about a job next year. Not because I won’t have a job teaching at Scott, but because health-wise, it’s probably not the best/safest decision. I hate you for pulling me away from my passion, what I was called to do. I hate you for taking me out of my classroom this year. I wasn’t ready to leave those 19 precious babies. I wasn’t done teaching them.

I hate you for making my parents and family worry. No parent should ever have to see their child sick. But hey, thanks for not making your appearance when I was a child…at least you waited until I was an adult. So considerate.

I hate you for forcing my husband to push his limits. For forcing him to live like a single parent. He’s the most positive, encouraging person I’ve ever met…and you can’t change that. I hate you for making him be positive enough for the both of us. Fortunately, he’s up to the challenge. Clearly, you’ve never met him.

I hate you for making me learn so much medical jargon. For forcing me to learn about the side effects of different chemo regimens…some of which I can’t even pronounce. I hate you for filling my counter with medicine…I hate you even more for making all of that medicine necessary. You sure do come with a lot of baggage.

I hate you for making me lose weight. For years, I have wanted to lose weight…but I haven’t quite tried hard enough to make it happen. And now, without trying, it’s falling off. People say, “Oh I’d love to lose that kind of weight!” No, you wouldn’t. Not like this. It’s not as satisfying when you’re not working for it.

I hate you for taking away my handwriting…handwriting that I loved and was proud of. Drawing, doodling, and writing was a sort of stress relief for me for so long. And now, it brings stress due to the neuropathy in my fingers. Holding a pen has never felt so uncomfortable, so unnatural. I hate you for taking that away from me.

But you know what? I’m not completely filled with hate. I have some love and gratitude in me too.

…thank you for my work family. I knew I had it made at Scott…but really, I had no idea just how blessed I was. Since they found out about my diagnosis, their support has been unwavering. The amount of joy that place [and the people inside] brings me is indescribable. No matter how crummy I feel, if I can pull myself together and go hide out in the office at school, I know I’ll leave floating on Cloud 9. My heart is filled with joy every time I visit that place. That’s how you know you’re blessed. The thought of not returning to Scott next year makes me feel like my heart is physically breaking…but for now, I’ll pray for direction and a plan…and I’ll continue to be thankful for my co-workers. Thank you, cancer, for reminding me how important a work family is.

…thank you for Monica Potter [and Parenthood]. For showing me that people who have made it big will still take the time to send a word of encouragement…to a complete stranger. There has never been a movie/series character that I have ever felt more connected to. Like I mentioned here, she did such an incredible job portraying  the role of a sick mama. I would absolutely love for the chance to meet Monica Potter and to thank her. To thank her for giving me hope and showing me that it is possible to be a mama and be sick at the same time…and to come out stronger on the other end. Thank you, cancer, for allowing me to connect with Kristina Braverman on a level I never imagined I would be able to.

…thank you for showing me the value of my husband. I knew he was irreplaceable…but man, this was a good reminder. There are often days where I just watch him in admiration.  The way he takes everything in stride. He always puts us first and will do anything in his power to make us happy. The way he leads our family is unlike any other. I pray that some day Hudson will take after his daddy and will make his family proud…just the way Danny does. Daniel Paul Moore, you are one of a kind. One in a million. I will forever be grateful for you. Thank you, cancer, for reminding me of the value of my husband.

…thank you for those awkward moments out in public. When the 3 year old little girl yells, “Mommy! That lady doesn’t have any hair!” or when the elementary-aged little boy shouts, “Ah! Mommy! She’s scary! What happened to her?” Thank you for those teachable moments. For allowing that mom to use that incredibly uncomfortable moment to teach their littles that life isn’t always fair. Thank you, cancer, for allowing parents to use me as an example in those awkward, uncomfortable situations.

…thank you for strangers. For giving them the courage to reach out with words of encouragement. They have no idea how their words keep me going…and remind me that people are watching. People I don’t know are watching me fight. I hope they’re proud…and maybe even inspired. Thank you, cancer, for reminding me that people are watching.

…thank you for our friends [old and new], neighbors, and family. We have the best of the best. I know that seems cliche, but dang it, it’s true. From ongoing meals, text messages, phone calls, etc., the support is endless…and we will never be able to express our gratitude to each and every one of them. We have been blessed with the most incredible families. Knowing we can call our neighbors at any hour and they will be there at the drop of a hat, brings comfort that is hard to come by. Knowing that we have family that will drop everything and love on our babies at any second brings a peace of mind that is indescribable. Knowing that our friends are there for anything and everything, fills us with undeniable gratitude that will never be forgotten…or taken advantage of. Thank you, cancer, for filling our lives with the most incredible, irreplaceable people.

…thank you for social media. Weird, I know. It seems like today, all social media does is stir up trouble. But, man…social media has allowed us to share our story in a way that never would have been possible before. It has been shared by news stations across the United States, all because of social media. In all the negative media today, our story is still being shared…and we will forever be grateful for that.  And thank you for Facebook–what?! Although it’s filled with political ads and crazy, unbelievable stories…it has also allowed me to reconnect with people from the past. People that I probably never would have talked to again, had I not gotten sick. Thank you, cancer, for allowing us to use social media as a positive outlet to share our message.

…thank you for Adriamycin. Yep, I said it. Thank you for the drug that caused me to lose my hair. (I know you think I’ve lost it..but for now, I’m completely with it.) Ever since I was a child, I would tell my mom that I could never “get cancer” (as if it were a choice) because I couldn’t handle losing my hair. Little did I know…God had a lot in store for me and my bald head. I could never have imagined the feeling of exhilaration I would get as my head was being shaved for the first time. Was I terrified? Absolutely. Shaking, nervous, but also at peace. I never imagined that rocking a bald head would be one of the easier “steps” of having cancer. I still get alarmed seeing myself in the mirror, but in a way, it makes me proud. Proud for people to see that cancer can’t take it all away. It took away my hair, but it can’t take away my will to fight. I pray every day that when people see me and they assume I have cancer, they also see something else…they see my smile. And I pray that it brings them hope. Hope that even when things are bad, smiling can make all the difference. A smile can make a bald head look real good…trust me. Thank you, cancer, for proving to me that bald can be is beautiful.

…thank you for LipSense. You took away my hair, then my eyelashes, and now you’re working on my eyebrows. You really are a greedy son-of-a-gun. But you also brought me something that manages to still make me feel pretty. In my current situation, that kind of confidence is irreplaceable. I pray that my business will continue to grow and it will turn into a financial blessing that I never saw coming. Thank you, cancer, for helping me find the beauty in such a dark situation. 

…thank you for my students…each and every one of them. The support from my school parents has always been remarkable, but it doesn’t even compare to the support I’ve received from them since I’ve been sick. Calls, texts, emails, cards, and gifts for no particular reason…they sure know how to make a teacher feel special. Judging by their support, they must know how much I love their kiddos. There’s something special about a relationship between a parent/teacher/student. The joy that I feel when I hug them cannot be described. It’s like a medicine…one that doesn’t have to be covered by insurance. And it’s something that cancer cannot take away. Thank you cancer, for helping me show my kiddos what it looks like to spread kindness, even in the face of tragedy. 

…thank you for Jonothan Stillwell. He walked into my classroom 8 years ago and I had no idea what an impact he would have on me. I knew he was special from the moment I met him, but I never imagined I would love him the way I do. I have searched for Jonothan for years. I’ve tried getting in touch with both he and his mom, but could never make it happen. It just so happens that he was watching the news that Thursday morning when our story aired. He was brought to tears. A 6’1, (almost) 17 year old boy was brought to tears watching his 4th grade teacher who had been diagnosed with cancer. A teacher he hadn’t seen in almost 8 years. Apparently I impacted him as much as he did me. It was you that brought us back together. Hey, if it weren’t for you, I may have never been able to hug that sweet, skinny boy again.  Thank you, cancer, for reconnecting me with “my” Jonothan Stillwell.

…thank you for Ellen. I’m not giving up on this yet. So many blessings have come from such a horrible experience…I’m not done hoping and praying that we get to meet her. Each and every day she spreads kindness and blesses people in a way that I hope I’ll be able to some day. I can’t imagine the joy it brings her to be able to bless people the way she does. And doggone-it, I need to meet this lady. Her smile is infectious. Her heart is infectious. And you know what? I know a 6 year old little boy who has a lot in common with her. I am hopeful that at some point, we will be able to share Kiptin’s story and spread kindness like wildfire. Thank you, cancer, for inspiring me, like Ellen, to spread kindness.

…thank you for the possibility of being able to consider dreams that I’d never be able to pursue otherwise. Thank you for pushing me to consider my dreams and encouraging me to find a way to make it work. [More details to come, along with prayer requests because a lot has to happen for this dream to become reality.] Thank you, cancer, for forcing me to consider following my dreams.

…thank you for the Medical Center of Plano. I didn’t have a whole lot of faith in that hospital, and man was I wrong. There is no other hospital I’d rather be at. The nurses on the 4th floor…they are angels. Real-life angels. I never imagined that on the days that I would be released from the hospital and able to go home and see my babies, I would cry because the thought of leaving the nurses broke my heart. Call me crazy, pathetic, whatever you wish…you haven’t met these ladies yet. I sure would have missed out not having these ladies in my life. They may be done with me, but I can assure you…I am not done with them. There really are angels on earth, y’all. Just go to the 4th floor to meet them. Thank you, cancer, for introducing me to some of the most incredible women I’ve ever met.

…thank you for cookies. Thank you for inspiring a 6 year old to go out and change the world. Had you never come in and tried to wreck my life, sweet Kiptin never would have had the idea to start his business–Kiptin’s Kookies for Moore’s Miracle (he must know I’m a sucker for alliteration). Thank you for using a 6 year old to remind people that there is still good in the world…and that a tiny little human can make an enormous impact if he’s given the chance. Thank you for inspiring more people to be more like Kiptin and to make a difference in the lives of others. Thank you, cancer, for proving that a 6 year old can change the world. 

…thank you for making me a fighter. Before you, I never knew what I was made of. I considered myself fragile. Too emotional. Way too high strung and anxious. But now, I’m pretty sure I could conquer the world…or at least go out putting up one heck of a fight. Cancer, you will not define me…nor will you win. You have ruined too many lives and broken apart too many families. Not mine. Nope. You are not welcome here. Thank you, cancer, for showing me what I’m made of.

Cancer…maybe you’re not so bad after all. In fact, you just may be one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I’ve been terrified to say that because well, it just sounds crazy. But you know what? It’s true. Looking back at all the blessings that have come since my diagnosis…cancer is, in fact, one of the best things that has ever happened to me…and I have been pretty darn blessed.


6 thoughts on “Dear Cancer…Thank You.

  1. Many thoughts and prayers for you, Ashley Cook Moore, each and every hour of every day. May God’s healing angels and hands bless and surround you.

  2. Very well written! I have been following your journey Ms. Ashley and I am so proud of you. Keep fighting the good fight of faith! God’s got you and so do so many family and friends! I call in for prayer every Friday morning with my church in Virginia and when we pray I call your name! “I called on you oh Lord and you healed Ashley’ (Psalm 30:2) This is Meredith Titus sending love and hope your way. God bless and I can’t wait to hear the glory of your testimony…well I feel like I already am hearing it but the the glory will be even greater when you are healed! Bless you!

  3. True Ashley, cancer has shown you and us, family and friends , what you’re made of. You have created a virtuous circle. I’m so very proud of you and Danny. You do have a lovely smile.
    Love always my dear,

  4. My dearest Ashley, what a magnificent blog you have created. I have read it so many times and am still crying,You have a way of writing that no one in this world has.I know you are helping so many people that have this ugly disease.You are the most caring, wonderful human being on this earth and I am so very proud to be your grandmother


  5. Ashley,
    Cancer is an unwelcome guest and it shows up when ever the hell it decides….I hated it too! But you are so absolutely right, it brings out many blessings that you never really realized before it came into your life.
    I was a single mom of 2….a 19 year in college and a special needs 9 year old. I never knew how I would be able to work full time to support them, get my son to school, care for him, care for myself…..and all of a sudden God sent the angels to help!
    You are a true inspiration and you always are smiling no matter what you have to face each and every day!!!
    I keep up with your social media and I pray for you and your family!! Keep that sweet smile and spirit… get it from your mama! 🙂
    Misty King Hays

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