Super Mom Ready To Fly Again This Mother’s Day

Erin Mullen with children Carson and Claire
HealthMotherhood 17 Comments

By Erin Mullen

My six year old and my eight year old know what Mommy asks for each Mother’s Day. “A day to sleep in and have a quiet morning”, is my traditional answer when my kids or husband ask what I want. The previous number of years I have been able to sleep to 8 or maybe even 9 o’clock before they pounce offering breakfast, cards and balloons. 2011 was different.

It was a tough year to say the least. I was challenged with many difficult decisions and situations during the year. Saying goodbye to my beloved father after he battled ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), leaving a corporate position, coordinating my family’s cross country move, and settling in to a new town had left me a bit frazzled. I really wanted to sleep in… and not just on Mother’s Day.

Then, in October 2011, I felt a lump in my breast. It wasn’t lost on me that October is breast cancer awareness month. There is a history of breast cancer in my family so I started having mammograms at age 38 and I even had one in January 2011 that didn’t show anything abnormal. I’ve attended walks and races over the years and planned corporate events to benefit breast cancer research. Those pink ribbons seemed like they were everywhere I glanced – magazines, billboards, yogurt – as I made the appointments that I knew I should and waited to find out more. I prayed that this was going to be an easy thing to check off my to do list.

Erin and her husband BillOn October 26th the phone rang. I remember the exact spot in the kitchen where I was standing when I answered and heard the radiologist tell me that the biopsy was positive. Holy crap. I am a 41 year old with two amazing kids and an awesome husband. I am a strong girl. I am in good shape. I eat well. I played soccer. I’ve run marathons (granted it was before kids and over a decade ago). I can handle this. Well, maybe not the entire overwhelming, multi-decision, brain racking, huge ball of news… but I can handle today. I went for a run. And then I had to make some decisions.

I was diagnosed with Stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma, the most common type of breast cancer. Since then, I’ve had some tough days and I’ve had some great days. I’ve had two surgeries including a double mastectomy with reconstruction and will need at least two more surgeries later this year. I did six rounds of chemo and twelve infusions of Herceptin. I stayed strong and optimistic and smiled more than I expected to. Moms are tough… we have to be. I even joked and laughed as my husband and kids helped me shave my hair this past January. Losing my hair was one of my least favorite side effects from chemo treatments, but hair is something I would give up forever if I get to stay a little longer on this Earth.

I am thankful that I caught the cancer early. Talking to other cancer survivors (some older, many younger) going through similar cancer treatments really helped. Cancer Survivor Mentors Dixie, Missy, Gen, Tamara, Jeanette, Lori and Maryann shared their stories, calmed my fears, and helped answer my questions about treatment options. I found an awesome medical team in Wisconsin including: my Breast Surgeon, who is a triathlete and overachiever herself; a perfectionist Plastic Surgeon; a knowledgeable Oncologist; and a very skilled Physical Therapist.

Erin Doing YogaI exercised as much as I could during treatment. Some days I ran, some days I went to spinning or did yoga, some days I walked at a snail’s pace down the street. Exercise has always been great therapy for me both physically and mentally. Luckily my medical team supported and encouraged my need to exercise. I like having goals and something to work toward besides doctor’s appointments and infusion rooms. A triathlon has always been something I have thought about but usually talked myself out of. Midway through treatment, I committed to train alongside other cancer survivors for my first triathlon this August. It’s a big goal considering the year I’ve had but I know I can do it. I am thrilled to be finishing up the chemo portion of my cancer treatment by Mother’s Day and can’t wait to cross the triathlon finish line come August. Cancer, take that!

This Mother’s Day, I am not sleeping in. This year I will be up early, before the kids, running, biking or swimming, happy to be cancer free and ready to be Super Mom again. This year I’ve learned to be more patient and to enjoy the little things. I am looking forward to the smell of bacon and their homemade cards. I will squeeze my family tighter this year and continue to be grateful to share the day with these wonderful people.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing Moms, including mine.

Erin & Family


The entire Women You Should Know team would like to thank our friend Erin Mullen for choosing to share her deeply personal story here. She is a brave warrior, a survivor, a Super Mom, and an inspiring Woman You Should Know. We wish her the VERY BEST Mother’s Day and continued good health.

  • LRB

    Erin… your attitude is really inspiring. I can’t get myself to the gym most days and here you are training for a triathlon, while successfully battling breast cancer and being a mom and a wife. WOW… you really do deserve an “S” on your chest and a cape. Congratulations on your health. This should be an awesome mother’s day for you and your family!

    PS – I’m sure you will rock that triathlon. Good luck!

  • Dajuitcy

    “Yesterday I dared to struggle. Today I dare to win.”

  • Wendi

    You ARE a Super Mom!!!!

    You are such a special friend of mine and I love you so much! It was so hard to know that you were going through this right after you moved away! I believe that everything happens for a reason… By you choosing to share this story, you will inspire so many other women to keep going and stay strong! I’m so happy that you are at the end of this now!! Go have fun with that triathlon!!

    You WON…cancer LOST!

  • Gen Matchette


    I am so proud of you! You have come so far with grace, dignity and a sense of humor and self! I’m so glad you reached out and that I was there to help. The BC Sorority is one sorority that you never want to join, but is a tight group once you’re in. We will always be there for you. I will be cheering super loudly when you cross that finish line in August so that you can hear me all the way down in GA.

    Hang tough and FIGHT LIKE A GIRL!!! You ROCK!!!

    Gen =)

  • Thanks for sharing your amazing story with me. You would never know all you’ve gone thru by the positive and uplifting energy that you’ve brought with you every time you walked into CYGA. You have a beautiful and strong practice, just like the person your are. God Bless and thanks again for your inspiring life.

  • Kerry Memole

    Erin, bless you! I had no idea that you had that going on on top of your dad, the move… You are and always have been amazing – you are a warrior and a gift.

  • Kelly Steinberg

    Erin, you are beautiful, amazing, inspiring and just awesome all around. I love having you in class at CYGA and look forward to seeing you attack some triathlons. Have a wonderful Mother’s Day and thank you for sharing this. You are awesome!

  • staci bailey

    You are an inspiration Erin and I wish the best for you and your family!!!! Thank you for sharing your story and HAPPY Mothers Day!!! I am also a cancer survivor (melanoma – 6 years now) and have done years of research on how diet, personal care products, and lifestyle can HELP in keeping pesky cancer away! If you would like some references, please let me know and I will forward on to you!!!! Wishing you continued success and sending HUGS and love to you and your family! xoxo

  • Mom

    Remember the plaque I made for Claire when she was born:
    “Strong and beautiful women: may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.”
    You are such an inspiration to me as you are so strong and so beautiful, inside and out! I love you to the moon! Keep on keepin’ on!!

  • Anne

    Dear Erin, I do not know you, but thank you so much for sharing your story. It is inspirational. It takes a very special woman to continue to look on the bright side after being through so much, but you have succeeded in doing that. Good luck in the triatholon, and enjoy Mother’s Day!!

  • Catherine Brown

    Erin, what a beautifully written story; very inspirational. Your positive attitude is incredible. Thank you for sharing your story. I will continue to pray for you and good luck in your triathlon in August!

  • Joanne Dixon

    Erin, you are absolutely a Super Star!!! Thank you for sharing your story … you are simply amazing! And thank you for being a part of my life, in my classes at CYGA … I love having you there, your energy and smile are awesome! Have a beautiful Mother’s Day (my Irish friend)!

  • Elizabeth Cavanagh

    Erin – holy cow, I had no idea you were going through so much, and after reading your story, that you were doing it with such strength. You have always been awesome to me, but I will forever think of you as ‘beyond beyond.’ Happy Mothers Day to you and thank you so much for sharing your story.


  • Tamara

    Erin – you are such an amazing person and I know you will soar across the finish line in August just as you have soared through this recent journey – with grace, dignity and strength. You are an inspiration to so many of us and I so grateful to call you my friend. Luv ya

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