Lacuna Loft Founder Shares Her Story
They Knew It All Along – by Mallory Casperson
Mallory is the Founder and CEO of a magazine and e-commerce site for young adults dealing with cancer or long term illness, as either patients or caregivers, called Lacuna Loft. She served as one of the primary caregivers for her mother undergoing treatments for a brain tumor just months before receiving her own diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She has her MS and half of a PhD in Aerospace Engineering. Mallory sees the beauty of everyday life and strives to help others find it too, even in crisis. Follow Lacuna Loft on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!
I went through chemo for 4 months. Every two weeks my then fiancé (now husband) and I would drive down to St. Louis, often with our two pups in tow, for my treatments. We would spend the night at my dad’s house, the house where I had grown up and the house where my mother had just died a few months earlier from a brain tumor, and then head out the next morning for the hospital. I would start to get nauseous just approaching the hospital’s parking garage. The last chemo cycle, I actually had a tearful fight with my husband about how I didn’t want to go inside the building.
As I just mentioned, my mother died just a few months before I received my own cancer diagnosis. My husband and I had lived with my parents for 2 months while I helped care for my mother. When I received my own diagnosis, my husband and I didn’t even have to talk about it specifically…this was something that we needed to do as much on our own as possible. We craved the independence and ability to create our own lives that living with my family during such a stressful time had put on hold.
For a while, I didn’t remember being offered an amazing amount of support while I battled cancer. The lack of overwhelming, in your face, kind of care made me feel lonely looking back on my journey with cancer as a caregiver and as a patient…and then I realized something. People were giving my husband and me the space that we were unconsciously asking for. While dissecting my journey more fully in the past few months, I have realized that my husband and I had quiet and very constant support from all directions. People sent me cards, scheduled coffee dates with me, let me talk for hours about how annoying or amazing a day or situation had been in my recent life, helped me figure out where to receive treatment, and so much more. My husband and his 2 roommates even shaved their heads with me! My husband and I fought most of the major battles as independently as we could, while still actively receiving a steady stream of love and kindness from those who would matter most to us then and in the coming years. I fully admit to feeling quite isolated during that time…but cancer is an isolating business and a portion of that isolation was something that only I could fix. Only I could reach out to people when I needed them and only I could learn to ask for help.
During this time, in the midst of the snail mail and the coffee dates and the phone calls and the text messages, a friend of my dad’s and a fellow cancer survivor, gave me a small gift each time that I had chemo. Sometimes a small note was included with the package and sometimes not. I can’t even remember all of the gifts but I do recall really looking forward to them. This woman, whom I have still never met, knew exactly what small goodies would be perfect to a young, female cancer patient. I received the most beautiful tea cup imaginable, a tiny pedicure kit, a tin of various Burt’s Bees chapsticks, a lovely honey smelling lotion, some cozy Life Is Good slipper socks, and more. Her gifts, like everyone else’s, weren’t all encompassing, but they served as loving reminders that someone was there with me when I was feeling lonely or scared. Recognizing the presence of the tangible and intangible gifts has made a lasting impression on me. Though my husband and I were able to live as our own, new family during my diagnosis and into my survivorship, there were never friends far from view. I have realized that I was really fighting for my own life and independence during my diagnosis and my friends knew it all along.