Face Your Fear

So, this is a picture of me as a first grader at All Saints Catholic School in Des Moines, Iowa. Please try and contain your laughter and think about the fact this was taken in 1981.

My oh my, what can I say…I’m not sure if it is the rather large glasses or the hair that scares me the most.

It’s amazing to me how, at the time of picture day, I thought this was cool. This picture would never go out of style, but now looking at it…I’m not even sure it was ever in style, even in 1981. 

This post is about facing my greatest fear as a first grader!   

First grade was, overall, a very positive school experience, but I must admit I was very intimidated by my teacher. Her name was Sister Jean Marie and she meant business. She had very high expectations and you never disrespected her, the classroom, other classmates and most of all, God. She could always tell if we were lying and would call you out on it, something she didn’t tolerate. My parents were both teachers at other schools, so there was absolutely no complaining about teachers, not in our home. It would be a waste of energy because they seemed to always side with the teachers. At least that was how it felt to me when I was a first grader.

As it goes for my first-grade year. There was a rolling skating field trip where the whole school was attending Skate East. I had no idea how to roller skate, and instead of putting myself through the misery of going and trying, I decided to pretend I was sick with the dreaded stomach bug. I’m sure you recall from a few posts ago that I could really put on an act when necessary. I was able to put on the greatest stomach bug act you had ever seen; hence I fooled my parents. My parents were both teachers, so they needed to take me to grandma’s and grandpa’s for the day. Of course, it was the best day ever! I was playing with the dogs outside, running all around, smiling and eating just fine with no problems. All the while, my all too smart grandma, was taking notes on my extra-curricular activities that day, and she let my parents know…I wasn’t sick.

When we all got home, I had to come clean with my parents and tell them their perfect little angel had lied. It wasn’t that I was sick, but rather I had no idea how to roller skate and didn’t want to go for fear I would humiliate myself.  

Could we NOT just leave it at that?

Nope, not my parents, who were trying to teach their first born a lesson. They made me meet with Sister Jean Marie before school the next morning with each sitting on either side of me. I sobbed all the way through it, but I ended up admitting to my lie of not really being sick at all but rather didn’t want to skate because I didn’t know how. 

I had to tell her that I lied! 

She was kind, told me that she was sorry I felt I had to lie, and she hoped I would make a better choice the next time. She said I can’t run from my fears, but rather, I needed to face them.

So, I knew this all skate day would come around again at my school the following year, so I decided it was time to learn how to roller skate.

The first time I fell, I sat on the floor and was frustrated, but then I got back up. I started to hold onto the railing, wall, or whatever I could grasp onto to keep myself from falling. I soon began to notice lots of friends holding on to walls or the railing. I also started to see others falling and laughing at themselves. I just got back up and kept trying, over and over I would fall and get back up. I was determined to get around the roller-skating rink without falling. I started to get comfortable, brave, and even skated without holding on to the wall. It empowered me to conquer this fear and I was so proud of myself.

Something that terrified me to tell a lie and stay out of school that day was a fear I faced. I am so glad I did. Roller skating got me through my junior high years. By the time I was in 7th grade, my brother and I could go together by ourselves, and our parents dropped us off every Friday. There waiting, would be our friends who were also dropped off by their parents. It was so much fun! 

I remember my first crush on this guy that was really talented on roller skates. He was tall, permed mullet hair in back with a big cute smile. He would even wear sunglasses during the song, “I wear my sunglasses at night” by Corey Hart!

I would just watch him and his girlfriend skate together holding hands and giggle with my friends every Friday night. It was the BEST!

I would pay $2.00 to get in and then $1.00 for my skate rental. Then I would skate with my friends from 6-10 pm. I could roller skate backwards, do the limbo, loved the snow ball, and even though I would never skate with a boy, none of us girls cared. We just skated with each other. It was always the same song played for the snow ball skate, “With or Without You” by U2. On top of that, my brother and I would scrape our quarters together and buy these small cups of Pepsi they sold for one quarter. It was an absolute blast, and I never cared about the blisters from roller skating for four hours, just as long as they were gone by the next Friday so I could go back to skate again.

Something I was scared of as a first grader ended up becoming one of the best memories from junior high, and I always had something to do Friday nights.

I have shared with my children, fear is something you will struggle with at different times in your life. There will be new fears that will pop up in your life and make you feel uncomfortable. However, its a choice on if you want to let them control you.

I have had to face quite a few fears over the last few months and even the last couple of years before my diagnosis. I have had days my entire world has been turned upside down, where fear just lingered. My children have also had to face some of the same fears.

There are days I wonder if I will have the energy that I had before starting Tamoxifen. I fear that since I didn’t do chemo, (recommended by my oncologist based on the onchotype test) will the cancer come back? I fear I am missing out on things with my children because somedays I feel depressed that my life is where it is. The headaches from my hormones can keep me from moving ahead with the things I wanted to do because I instead need to lay down. I fear I will never be ok with my new body as it continues to change with the expanders for reconstruction and then the second surgery in May.

As I type this I have tears rolling down my face because I didn’t think when I was 7 years old that the fears I am currently facing would be so tough!

Deep breath…thank goodness for coping skills and gratitude!

I keep moving towards hope. Hope that after three or four months my body will adjust to Tamoxifen. Hope the cancer will not come back because of being on the daily Tamoxifen pill for 5-10 years. Grateful that I have four healthy children, supportive family, friends willing to help and a community that lifts me up through prayer. Strength from the care I have received from my doctors. Gratitude that my diagnosis isn’t as dreadful as it could be. Faith in God and courage to believe hope is stronger than fear. Finally, joy that I know how living one day at a time is all we have, so I better get busy!

Maya Angelou said,

“Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay.”

3 thoughts on “Face Your Fear

  1. Continue to focus on the positive.You do not have to do chemo and be so very sick, lose your hair,etc. You do not have to have radiation that makes breast tissue very hard and disfigured. Tamifoxifen isn’t easy either but you will have good results down the road. You have wonderful family and friends that love you and are supporting you. Hang in there. It will be so much better as you Go through your journey. Keep your courage strong!


  2. LOVE IT! I need to hear more stories like this, so I can remind myself that it’s okay for my kids to feel bad! Look how great we turned out.


  3. I love it, too! I am so proud of the strong, independent, amazing adults you have become! It is my great joy to watch each of you parent your own children!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s