Cancer diagnosis leads to blessing of daughter, granddaughter

Franne Schwarb is guest columnist.

I am having trouble saying the name of my new granddaughter. I have called her everything but her name since the day she was born.

Princess Summer Fall Winter Spring (that shows my age), The Girl, The Baby and so many more.

I have a really good reason for procrastinating: She is named for my mother, Miriam Schiff.

In the spring of 1979, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when she went for an elective breast reduction. She’d chosen to have the reduction done in Atlanta where we lived at the time. She said she had taken care of me when I was often sick as a child, and it was my turn to care for her.

She ended up having the reduction on one side and a complete mastectomy on the other. The cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and the prognosis was terrible.

My siblings and I were devastated. I was losing more than a mother, I was losing a friend and a relationship I cherished. It took me years to appreciate my mom and now she was going to leave me?

Our second son was born with special needs and my husband and I had decided two children were enough.

After my mom’s diagnosis, I knew I needed a daughter. I needed to form that mother-daughter bond with a daughter of my own.

I got pregnant quickly and my doctor told me it would be a little girl. I have no idea how he knew. Ultrasounds weren’t done routinely in those days, but I guess he saw something in my eyes or maybe he saw my heart.

From the day Jenny was born, my mom told everyone that would listen that if she hadn’t gotten breast cancer, we wouldn’t have our girl.

Miriam “senior” beat the odds: She lived 11 more years after her original diagnosis.

Now to the point: My daughter has a 5-year-old son, Ian, and her newborn daughter is Miriam.

So I will say her name. I will cry often and tear up at every picture, but I know that somewhere the other Miriam is smiling and telling everyone that will listen, “See that little girl? We wouldn’t have her if I hadn’t gotten breast cancer.”

Franne Schwarb is a Realtor, wife, mother of three and grandmother of four.