Staying in the picture

Sick mama selfie

I’ve never been much of a selfie taker. But when I continued to be sick and didn’t show any signs of getting better I thought about how something could happen to me and my daughters wouldn’t have any pictures of me. Or with me. Thus far their whole childhood has been heavily documented and there are maybe 30 pictures of me in the thousands I have taken of them.

I remember years ago people posting pictures of themselves with their moms on Facebook for Mother’s Day and I searched high and low for a photo with me and my mom. But my family hates photos – they will almost literally run away from a camera. I didn’t even think to get photos taken with my parents or siblings at my wedding because I know how uncomfortable they are in front of the camera. We, as women, usually have an excuse. I’m too tired, too fat, too old, too *whatever* to have my picture taken right now.

But my excuses have run out. And so has my time.

So I started taking selfies, usually with a child. Usually with Oonagh because we spend all day together, often laying in my bed reading books.

I spend all day with her and if something were to happen to me now she wouldn’t remember me. How much does that suck? Because I can tell you, that thought is one of the reasons I can’t stop crying these days. I almost died bringing that little ray of sunshine into this fucking world and now cancer is trying to take me away from her.

I will gladly give up anything. My boobs. My hair. My ability to walk, if I can just stay around long enough to watch my girls grow up and at this point we don’t even know if that is possible.

From the very little I understand so far, Metastatic Breast Cancer is a life sentence. The best you can hope for is that they can control it enough to turn it into a chronic disease.

So I guess selfies aren’t for beautiful, possibly narcissistic teenagers anymore. They are for scared moms hoping to hold on to each and every moment. To leave something behind so my children will remember me.

And I encourage other moms (or dads, or grandparents or favourite aunties and uncles) to take them too because you never know.

You just never know.


I was led to this video today, which I’ve heard sums up what I am about to go through quite succinctly if you care to watch. It isn’t an easy watch though, just to warn you.


  10 Replies to “Staying in the picture”

  1. December 7, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    I am sorry the future seems so scary from where you are right now. Sending you so much love, and yes, keep taking those photos. There are more than a few of us enamoured with your beautiful face.

  2. clara cristofaro (@torturedpotato)
    December 7, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    Virtual stranger, sometime internet friend, I saw your previous post the other day & I’ve been thinking about you and your family. I’m glad you have words and help, and I just wanted you to know there’s one more person out here rooting for you.

  3. Jocelyn
    December 7, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    If something happened to you today, we’d show her those selfies and fill all the blanks with stories that would try to make her connect with memories of you, and we’d will that connection to happen with all of our love for you Melanie.

    The notion that your girls can’t take you forgranted and possibly face a world without you in it, is (effing) impossible and cruel and frustrating. We’ll feebly offer meals in a cooler and will you into “chronic disease”, while you love your girls and take lots of pictures and memories.


    • December 8, 2015 at 6:05 am

      Oh, man. This is friendship. You are awesome, Jocelyn.

  4. Laith
    December 7, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    Stumbled across your post through a mutual friend. There is a lot of life shining through both of you in that picture. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I know it comes at too high a price.

  5. Jasmin
    December 8, 2015 at 6:17 am

    Hey Melanie
    I liked your post. Yes the selfies and pictures in general are a wonderful idea. Mets is a huge diagnosis to digest – and honestly it leaves a not so fun aftertaste but as you said it can be treated as a chronic condition which buys you some all important time.
    Check out this video that I was able to be a part of and there are a few others done by the same charity for us ladies with mets. They are well done. Thought they might help.
    You can live with mets – maybe not as long but you can take life by the )&&!?¥ and live it in whatever way you can.
    I have been since 2011! I have two little girls and like you my goal is to be here for them.
    Amy connected us if you ever need to talk.
    Hugs – Jasmin

  6. Syl
    December 8, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Mel you are beautiful inside and out, keep snapping those pictures. Thinking of you and your entire family.

  7. katharine
    December 8, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    I’m a grown woman, a mother of five. When my mother died young two and a half years ago after years of illness I realized I didn’t have some simple things that I wish I’d asked for. The thing I’ve wanted the most? Words to me in her hand writing. Her signature, even just her name. She told me many lovely things before she died but I’d love to have something I could hold.

  8. Em
    December 8, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Melanie, you have always been and continue to be a beautiful person. Sending you and your entire family lots of love and strength.

  9. Adrienne Roode
    December 14, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    They are indeed for scared moms. In our case, it’s to have photos of me with my little girl who is, like you, fighting cancer. And just like you, I would give up all of those things to watch her grow up and be here to remember me. My heart goes out to you. Truly. We are in a battle very few people can understand. Instead of placid condolences or sympathies I offer you comraderie and courage. Mother to mother. For our daughters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.