Fall is upon us here in Ohio, and it got me thinking. Two years ago, my life was absolutely perfect. I was enjoying senior year with my friends. The hardest thing I was going through was some difficult classes and other mundane troubles. It was around October that things in my life started to “fall apart”. I was having some health issues, battling a nasty case of Pluerisy, which resulted in chest xrays and a lot of sleepless nights. I thought that was the worst thing to happen to me; boy was I wrong. Afterall, it was around this time that I learned that my mother had a suspicious spot on her breast that needed to be checked out. Instead of just a mammogram, a biopsy was ordered. Weeks later, I would receive a devasting blow in which I would learn that my mom had Stage 2 Breast Cancer. Words cannot describe how devastating it is to hear the words “your mother has cancer.” In the days and weeks following, I went from being a typical, colllege senior, to a daughter thrust into a scary world in which I was the one to help take care of her after surgery. All my life my mother had been my strength; now I had to be hers.
The weeks and months following her diagnosis would prove to be the most difficult and emotionally draining of my entire life. I was scared, I was angry, I was confused, and I wanted it to be over. Eventually, after 16 weeks of chemo treatments, my mother was halfway through her journey. She had her last chemo treatment a week before my college graduation, and I will never forget the sight of her, wearing her wig proudly, eyes watering and feeling awful because of chemo, watching me cross that stage from one journey to the next. Perhaps the symbolism of that moment was the fact that not only was I moving on to the next stage, so was she.
And what a stage it was: radiation treatments, much easier on her body, and what I felt was the return of my “pre-cancer mom”—happy and almost healthy. It was wonderful.
My life will never be the same; cancer transformed me through and through. I am stronger because of it, and will never forget the lesson it taught me: Family is what gets you through your worst days, and your darkest hour may just be the most enlightening. As Winston Churchill once said, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” And that’s exactly what me, my Dad, my sister and my Mom did.