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On Being a Mom: Dr. Noelle LoConte

Dr. Noelle LoConte and her family

UW Carbone Cancer Center Medical oncologist, Dr. Noelle LoConte, talks about what becoming a mom taught her about dealing with cancer.

 

Nothing has changed the way I view my life more than becoming a mother. 

 

This change extends to my professional life as a medical oncologist as well. Being a mother made me see that everyone out there is someone's child. In every aspect of my life, being a parent softened my anger and increased by empathy. In my clinic, it helped me see more clearly how patients' families might be reacting to a cancer diagnosis, and to the possible premature loss of a child, a mother, a grandmother. And even when they are older than I am, after a mother dies, I wonder how her children are coping. 

 

You never lose your need for your mother; your needs just change over time. More immediate to my home life, being a mom who is also a cancer doctor makes me never, ever want to miss an opportunity to say "I love you" or to give hugs or to run around the playground. It puts into perspective the little things, and sharply clarifies your life's priorities. Gone are the days when I seriously worried about how my hair looks, or escalate petty disagreements into full blown grudges. Because I know, in a single day everything can change. A happy and safe and loving and complete home cannot be taken for granted. 

 

I remember a daughter who lost her mother to pancreatic cancer tell me that the way her mom showed her love was to keep being the Mom they all knew even after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She kept making lunches and sewing on buttons that had fallen off and attending piano recitals. 

 

And that's exactly it - not taking advantage of the special moments we have together in the day-to-day of life. That is what becoming a mom taught me about dealing with cancer.