I’ll never forget the day in 1989, when at 7 years old, I was told that my mom had breast cancer. My mom and dad sat us down in the living room and told us that mom was sick and was going to be at the doctor a lot over the next year. I remember my mom got so sick from the chemo. I remember family friends coming over all the time to help out. I remember getting a pair of new roller blades on the last day of school while visiting my mom at the hospital, and I remember the day they told us mom was going to be okay!
Now fast forward to 2002; my mom and dad finalized their divorce, and mom was moving into a new house. After the move she had some pain in her ribs and we convinced her to go to the doctor because we thought she had broken a rib or two during the move. After CAT scans and MRI’s, my mom and grandpa came home from the doctor to tell us that mom’s cancer was back and she had tumors all over her back bones. The doctor scheduled radiation treatments and chemo immediately. Over the next few years, the tumors shrunk, but never went away. I was at the appointment when the doctor told my mom that although the tumors were shrinking she would always have the cancer.
She had stage 4 breast cancer that had metastasized into her bones and liver. The doctor said that as long as there were treatments available to shrink the tumors, my mom would have a long life. Then one August day in 2008, my mom called me to tell me that she was on her way to the doctor because she was having some pain again. I happened to be in the same town as her doctor office that day for a work meeting and met her for her appointment. The doctor who had been treating my mom for the past six years, came in the room with a somber look on his face. He told my mom to spend time with her daughter’s (I have one sister), and told me that he wanted to talk to me about hospice care. I knew what that meant. There was nothing else they could do. The cancer had spread to my mom’s brain and lungs. I basically moved in with my mom for the next five weeks. That was all the time she had. On October 2, 2008, my Mom, after fighting like no girl should ever have to fight, lost her long battle to breast cancer. It has almost been five years since she has left us. The morning that my mom took her last breath, my dad was lying in bed next to her. Even after their divorce, my dad loved my mom so much. It was comforting to know that he was there with her that morning.
Over the past almost five years, a few of my friend’s have also lost a parent. I was 26 when my Mom passed away. Having been through the loss of a parent, I thought that I had a sort of duty to my friend’s to be there for them, to tell them my story, and to be there for them in the months and years after their parent passed. Immediately after my Mom’s passing, we were overwhelmed with cards, flowers, calls, etc. We formed a Relay for Life Team, my mom’s best friend did the Komen 3-Day in memory of my Mom. My husband and I did several 5 K races and continue to do those in memory of mom. However, over time, people go on with their lives and you are still left without that one person who meant the world to you. I guess the purpose of my story is that for all us here who have lost a loved one to cancer or another horrible disease, we owe it to each other to be each other’s support because until someone goes through this loss, nobody else will understand what we truly go through.
For all of those of you who are fighting, may you win that fight with grace and glory! For those of us here who have lost someone, may you always remember your loved one and continue to share your memories with those around you.
The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.