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Identity Tug of War
Cancer Talk

Identity Tug of War

Cancer Talk


Charissa Bates LICSW, SSW

This is a constant struggle of mine.  

Am I someone who had cancer?  Am I a young mom that had cancer with young children?  

Am I someone that dwells on cancer too much?  Do I not talk about and support others enough?  

For 10 years I've been a mother.  That identity I love.  That is one that I know I can grasp onto and embrace.  

A young mom with young kids diagnosed with cancer.  Is this an identity that should stick?  Is it too much to be constantly identifying with?  

When I was in treatment, being a cancer fighter was an identity I could get behind.  It made sense.  It was all consuming.  

My thoughts were constantly about cancer and how to get through the day.  Those thoughts consumed me 24/7.  Then something happened a year after treatment.  My thoughts were consumed with other things besides cancer.  Volunteering duties, a new job, kid's activities, playdate scheduling, cleaning my house, and all the "normal things" we fill our minds with.  

One thing though is cancer was still in my thoughts.  Often hourly.  My feet hurt, I take medication for Osteoporosis, I can't always fall asleep, and my gifts of wisdom are always present.  

Is this annoying to others?  All my cancer talk?  Should I be focusing on other things?  

God told me that he had "big plans" for me when I was diagnosed.  I was never afraid for the future.  I knew God had my back.  

Now what is that "big plan"?  What does He want me to do?  

Is His plan for my family and I to write a book and get it in the hands of children that have a parent diagnosed?  To empower families to find joy during a hard time like we did?  

The identity struggle is real.  The tugging and pulling in what I should do with my life is ever present.  Perhaps one day the rope will break and everything will be clear in where I should fall.  Until then, I'll embrace the day with educating others and hopefully being a support for others during hard times.

Charissa Bates is children's mental health therapist and author who writes books addressing cancer for adults and children. Learn more here.

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