My mother was diagnosed with cancer when I was 4. I didn’t know much about it, just that she went to the doctor a lot when I was a kid. As I got older, I came to understand that my mother was a survivor. She had beaten breast cancer. We went to walks in Metro Detroit to help raise money for research, participated in the Relay For Life every year, and for 11 years, we didn’t really give it much thought.
Then, when I was 15, I came home from football practice, and the house felt different. My dad looked sullen. My mom had the sad look on her face that was noticeable because she almost never looked that way. My parents sat my younger sister and I down and told us that Mom’s cancer had returned. “Metastasized” was the word they used. We thought it had been in remission, but apparently that wasn’t entirely true. It was at stage 4 by the time they were able to catch it. They told her she had about 2 years.
The survivor in my Mom had her fighting and she lasted 8 years. She passed away in 2009 at the age of 56. She was my best friend. We talked daily, and I was lucky enough to be able to help care for her before she passed. I even gave the eulogy at her funeral. Losing my mom at 23 was devastating.