When we first started looking for extraordinary families to tell their stories, I did not know who we would find or what their unique circumstances would be. One thing I quickly realized was how many versions of extraordinary exist in the world. Sarah Bennett initially reached out to me casually on Snapchat with a message that said something like, “Any interest in featuring a mom currently going through chemo?”
Honestly, I wasn’t sure. I had imagined this series being uplifting and a mother with cancer sounded really heavy. But I told her we would consider it and to submit her story under the post like everybody else.
It is heavy. There is no getting around it. But Sarah said that despite being in an ongoing battle (this is not a remission story), she wanted to give other parents dealing with cancer or a terminal illness hope. “I never want anyone else to feel as lonely as I did the first few months of my diagnosis.”
She told me that it would be very easy for her to lie in bed all day and feel sorry for herself and nobody would question her for doing that, but she “puts on a happy face” for her three-year-old son, Austin. She doesn’t want him to look back on his childhood and remember that his mother was always sick. She wants him to remember his mom doing all the things that mothers do.
I also admire that when Sarah informed her friends and family on Facebook about a particular setback, she knew she was delivering the kind of news that people would not know how to respond to, so she told them specifically what she wanted to hear and gave them permission to “like” her post or click the “angry face.”
“Often times people don’t know how to react when they hear about my circumstances. That’s okay. If you don’t know what to say, just say that. It’s better than silence. Just knowing that people are out there supporting me, praying for me or sending good vibes, makes me happy. Also, it’s a welcomed distraction to talk about anything other than my cancer. I think some people feel that they shouldn’t but I appreciate it.”
I imagine Sarah inherits a lot of her strength and purpose from her own mother Linda, who along with her husband Mike, is there for her every step of the way.
When I asked Sarah what she thought of the video, she said it was “overwhelming” and “emotional” and “amazing” but ultimately, it was the lighthearted moments that stood out to her the most.
“I laughed when I saw Austin drop the silverware after dinner and when I found him peeing outside. At the time, it was somewhat frustrating but now it’s funny. Just shows how those incidents are so minor in the scheme of things. The long and short of it is that I am a mother who happens to have cancer. It’s not my identity or who I am. I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend.”
Please leave a comment in support of Sarah and her beautiful family below.
This post is part of the “Extraordinary Families” series sponsored by Allstate. “Extraordinary Families” aims to show what life is like, sun up to sun down, for families facing (and overcoming!) unique and challenging circumstances. As the nation’s largest publicly held insurance company, Allstate is dedicated to protecting what matters most.