By: Ina Joseph
Our mothers are heroes. Our mothers epitomize strength and love and abundance just by nature of the weight they carry bringing our lives into the world. Every mother deserves the utmost celebration this Mother’s Day, but we wanted to give special recognition to mothers in the breast cancer community.
Enduring, let alone surviving, breast cancer is a feat in and of itself. Surviving breast cancer and experiencing motherhood – no matter what the chronology - is an unimaginable and remarkable journey which often goes overlooked. We spoke to some survivor moms about the dual reality of motherhood and breast cancer; the lessons they’ve learned, the graces they’ve gained, and all of the love and hardship in between.
Happy Mother’s Day today and every day after to the women who’ve braved breast cancer and motherhood. For this article, we sat down with Genoveva Maya Fruet to get her thoughts on motherhood and breast cancer survivorship.
Name: Genoveva Maya Fruet
Location: Oviedo, Florida
Occupation: Urban planner / project manager
Amour Caché (AC): Tell us a bit about your story and background.
Genoveva (G): The youngest of five children, I grew up in Brazil, where my extended family still lives. While in Brazil, I worked as an architect and professor. During graduate school in the US, I met my husband. Lived in Rio de Janeiro, Copenhagen and moved to the USA in 2003. Started working as an urban planner in Florida. My two daughters were raised in the US and are now two wonderful, independent, bi-cultural young women. We are a very tight-knit family and enjoy doing many things together. I like photography, cinema, enjoy reading, and re-discovered a passion from when I was a child: drawing and painting.
AC: How has breast cancer impacted your experience with motherhood (or vice versa)?
G: I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 59. Luckily it was still in the first stages. My first thought was that if I lost my breast, I had already breastfed my two daughters. It was an advantage (if there is any advantage [of breast cancer]…) that I had it on a later age. I ended up deciding to have a mastectomy on my right breast. I preferred to take no risks. I thought that I valued more the time I would gain to be with my family and daughters than keeping my breast and risk having a re-incidence of the disease. I do not regret this decision, despite the surgery and recovery that I had to go through.
AC: What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned from experiencing both motherhood and breast cancer?
G: My mother used to say to me that a “daughter you are now and a mother you will be”, when we had a conflict and I complained about her concerns or demands as a mother. I believe that motherhood teaches us to appreciate our mothers, through the love and care we give to our own children. Being a mother gives us motivation to do better, to make a difference in this world, and strength to face adversities like cancer. We find out how resilient we can be.
AC: Describe the most rewarding aspect of being a “survivor mom” in 15 words or less.
G: I gained more appreciation of life in general, especially of the moments I can share with my family and friends.
AC: What advice would you give to survivor soon-to-be moms or moms who have just received a diagnosis?
G: Science is on our side and to try to live one day at a time. We don’t know how strong we can be when we need it. The physical scar we may get is a sign that we are alive and ready for another fight.