When Cancer Calls, Family Matters Most Peg Steinberg was diagnosed not once — but twice — with cancer. Through the difficult times of bouncing in and out of good health, Peg and her son, Dan, recall the source of their strength: family unity.

When Cancer Calls, Family Matters Most

When Cancer Calls, Family Matters Most

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Dan Steinberg with his mother, Peg Steinberg. StoryCorps hide caption

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Dan Steinberg with his mother, Peg Steinberg.


Normally in a parent-child relationship, the responsiblity for care falls on the parent. But when unfortunate circumstances strike, the roles can quickly be reversed. This was the case for Dan Steinberg, who along with sister, Molly, saw their mother, Peg, through her multiple bouts with cancer.

When Peg Steinberg was 36, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ten and a half years later, it had reappeared in her skin, but she managed to get through it.

Since then, Peg has had another bout with cancer.

"Two years ago, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer," Peg says. "But I now feel pretty good, and so far — knock wood — the cancer is not there."

Peg says her family has been like a rock to her, even when her son Dan was younger.

She remembers a time when Dan and his sister, Molly, went to the hospital when Peg first had her mastectomies. Dan and Molly crawled in bed with Peg, and they watched movies on the television.

But the most amazing time of support for Peg was after her surgery for ovarian cancer.

"You and Molly both said, 'Mom, we were young before and you wanted to protect us, but now we're here for you. We're adults and we want to know what you're feeling so we can help you get through it,'" Peg recalls. "And that was very powerful."

Dan admires the way his mother was able to carry herself throughout the entire experience.

"You're still my mother, Molly's mother. And that hasn't changed," Dan says. "I guess what's been hard for me is just facing up to the fact that at some point, I know I'm gonna have to say goodbye to you and I hope that's not soon. But I guess part of me thinks it could be anytime."

Peg says that if there was anything she could change in terms of her illness, it would be to have been able to give Dan more positive things in life, so that he would not have had the fear of losing his mother.

"The idea that you haven't been able to give us positive things is just absurd," Dan says. "I love you and you have always been a role model of how I should attack life, how I should live life."

Peg seems pleased.

"You know what, honey? I'm very happy that you feel that way, and I can't imagine having been through any of this without all of you," she says.

Produced for 'Morning Edition' by Katie Simon. The senior producer of StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.