“I’m telling other moms – I want you to know this is the second time we’ve been fighting cancer – because there is hope. There is hope.”
NAUGATUCK, Conn. – A mother’s love and resilience is endless, as a Naugatuck mother can certainly attest.
May Brice’s two young daughters have both fought against leukemia. The strength and faith of these little girls and their mother is contagious.
Brice, 41, has made use of that belief for the past six years. In an incredibly rare event – less than 2% – both of her daughters have been diagnosed with childhood cancer.
Seven-year-old Scarlett has been in remission for three years, while six-year-old Sophie is in the thick of it. Kindergarten has a year and a half of chemotherapy under its belt and another year and a half ahead of her.
It was that undeniable maternal instinct that sent Brice with Sophie to the pediatrician in 2020, just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brice said the pediatrician said to her, ‘Don’t worry, don’t think like that. I know you’ve been through this with Scarlett. I said I knew. I don’t want to be this crazy cancer mom, but can you please screen her for cancer. “
Shortly after, the heartbreaking news was confirmed: Sophie was at high risk for leukemia. To make matters worse, COVID-19 restrictions came with limited contact or companionship in the hospital. It’s been isolating to both Sophie and the patient and her mother as the sole supportive advocate.
“Very lonely, very depressing,” Brice said. “I mean, I do my best to stay strong, as a mother you just keep going. I had no idea I had so much strength in myself until I faced this, frankly. “
In fact, Brice is the reassuring voice at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center for other mothers who have processed their children’s cancer diagnosis.
Recalling a conversation with another parent who dealt with the news of her child’s illness, Brice said, “She asked me, can you please tell me if I’m going to be okay?”
She continued: “Then I show a picture of Scarlett, our sunshine, I say this is my daughter. You won’t believe this is the second time we’ve been fighting cancer and they say, ‘Oh my. How? are you kidding me? ‘ I say, “I want you to know this is the second time because there is hope. There is hope.” “
Big sister Scarlett has been in remission for a few years now, a blessing the family celebrates every year. She tries her best to hold her sister’s hand during this process.
“I tell her I love her and when she’s lying down and won’t say anything, I’ll just give her a kiss,” said Scarlett.
A virtual gala run by Southern Connecticut State University’s childhood cancer awareness organization will honor Sophie on April 30. Ticket purchases help the family currently at work from one salary, as Brice takes care of her daughters full-time.
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