Sara’s Story: Cancer In My Dreams

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Each day a different guest blogger will be featured who will generously share their personal experience with childhood cancer.  Stories are always more potent than statistics.  

By Erin Martorano


It drags so many emotions along with it.
It left our house, but I’m still haunted.
Our daughter, Sara, was diagnosed with Stage IV Wilms Tumor (kidney cancer) in November 2008.

I know . . .

I know . . .

I know what you’re thinking:

That was nearly six years ago…
Sara is a happy and healthy nine year old enjoying a cancer free life!
Would ya just move on?

But I can’t.

I’m still talking about cancer.

Livin’ the cancer free life, but I’m still tripping over what cancer left behind.
Me and cancer… we have trust issues.

Some nights, my dreams are heavy with visions of cancer returning to our house – not for Sara, the rest of us.
I nervously wake up and my mind frantically searches for comforting facts.
Cancer did not steal Sara from us.
We are 5 years & 2 months cancer free.
Our family is ok.
I am ok.

A friend emailed me this picture.
It’s located on the Atlanta Public Health Building.

September Sara2

I literally felt my heart drop.
I heard myself say, “That’s it!”
This picture IS my dream.
Never have I ever seen anything so expressive of a feeling that was screaming inside of me.

Cancer in my dreams – Felt by Erin Martorano (cancer mom)

In my dreams, cancer doesn’t have a face.

Its presence is shockingly abrupt – so quick, I can’t lock the door.

Its presence is destructive and breaks our favorite things.
Its presence is dark and sinister – the light in our house turns hazy and unfamiliar; I can’t find my way.
Its presence swirls gusts of cold air that force me to gasp for breathe.
Its presence makes me anxious – unsure of what its next move is.
Its footsteps are loud and intimidating – something big is coming.
I hide, but it finds me.
It violently smacks me in the face.
It hovers above me.
It pokes at me – it hurts.
It loudly breathes its rancid breathe of death in my face.
I try to turn away, but it wants my full attention.
It doesn’t speak.
It’s voice is hidden in its breathe.
It wants me or someone I love.
It’s intent is to kill.
It does not care that I’m terrified and crying.
It likes it.
I do nothing.
My cowering in the corner fuels its mission of death.
I have so much to scream, but I’m unable to speak.
It shows no mercy.
It raises both arms in evil victory and violently slams them towards me…
I wake up.
I didn’t see it leave our house.
I didn’t see it leave our house.
I didn’t see it leave our house.

Is it gone?
Will it come back?
Everyone says cancer left our house.
Gone for now.
That’s good enough.

My favorite picture of Sara with cancer (2009)

September Sara3

Her smile is contagious (2014)

September Sara1

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