I was 11 years old, sitting upstairs in my room when my mom hollered at me from downstairs. My mom usually only yelled when I was in trouble, but this yell was different.
Her voice had a little crack in it, like you could hear hurt in her voice. I went downstairs and sat next to my siblings on the floor when my mom said:
Before we tell you what is going on, I just want to let you know that I won’t let this kill me and or bring me down.
My mind immediately went to worst-case scenarios as I pondered if something was going on that would take my mom away from me. Then she broke the news.
Mommy has a bump in her chest, it almost feels like a bouncy ball. I have Stage II Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, I have Breast Cancer.
Cancer! The only word that stuck with me. Time had stopped. I walked back upstairs, closed my bedroom door, and collapsed.
Honestly, I was mad at god. I couldn't grasp why this had to happen. I couldn’t breathe.
When I wiped my tears and walked back downstairs, I asked my parents what the plan was. But unfortunately, my parents were as clueless as I was at this point.
Time For Surgery
Two weeks later, it was surgery day. It broke my heart to look at my mom and see the pain in her face. I didn’t really know what to expect.
At school, I wore all pink, from my head to my toes. I was decked out in breast cancer attire with buttons that had my mom’s name on them. I went straight to the hospital after school, but my mom wasn’t out of surgery yet so we just waited. I told my dad that I needed to use the restroom, even though I didn’t. But it was an excuse for me to “accidentally” make a wrong turn, and heading to the chapel.
The moment I opened the door, I immediately lost it. I walked up to the first row, bowed my head and prayed.
I almost "demanded" for God to protect her. My mom was my world, my everything, without her, nothing would make sense.
Once I got back, the doctors came and said we could see my mom only if we stayed in the hall per her request. Peeping through a crack in the blind I saw the doctor’s move my mom from one bed to another. The bloodcurdling scream that came from her will always be stuck in my head. I noticed tubes sticking out the sides of my mom’s chest between her ribs, draining fluids from her breasts. When it was time to leave, I did a little finger wave through the window saying goodbye and I love you to my mom. That one finger wave could have easily been our last goodbye.
She ended up having a double mastectomy, meaning she had both breasts removed to prevent the cancer from coming back in the other breast in future years.
Welcome Home, Mama!
My mom refused to let us kids see her in pain. My mom is a bull-headed, independent, strong woman who doesn’t ask for help from others, even when she needs it. I went three days without seeing my beautiful mama. Those three days were the longest of my life.
Dad said she was okay, but in reality, I didn't know anything. I spent a majority of those days praying to God, begging him to bring my mom home safely, he listened.
After those three days, she was able to come home. My siblings and I decorated the house with a “welcome home mommy” banner, pink balloons, homemade cards and flowers. I had my best friend back home and healthy, life never felt so complete.
Time To Grow Up. Fast!
After one week, my dad went back to work, meaning that I, as the oldest child, had to grow up quick.
I helped my mom look after my younger brother and sister and learned how to cook, clean, do laundry, and many other tasks around the house. My biggest responsibility was taking care of my mom.
She was not able to stand up on her own. Anytime she moved, she’d feel excruciating pain.
The situation was just incredibly challenging. I even helped my mom shower. I can only imagine how that must have made her feel. After all, she was the one giving this little girls baths, now, this same girl is giving her one. It was heartbreaking. My cheery mom wasn’t the same because of a life-changing disease.
The Long-Term Effects
My mom went through chemo which helped kill the cancer, but had it’s side effects.
One day after school, I remember my dad telling us that mom had lost her hair and that we need to act as if nothing changed. I felt obligated to prepare my sister that when we got home, our mom was going to look different. She asked:
Is mommy going to die?
That was tough. Reality set in. The thought of her being gone for eternity hit me hard. When we arrived home, I stayed in the garage trying to avoid seeing her, but I finally worked up the courage to walk into the house. When I opened the door she looked up at me with tears. Tears that I'm sure were filled with pain and fear.
The chemo was slowly bringing my mom down. My little brother, a huge momma’s boy, refused to get on the school bus every morning until my mom got up and into the bathtub because he just wanted to know she was okay. He slept on the floor next to my mom and would watch her chest rise just to make sure she was still breathing. If my mom had left us, his world would’ve been flipped upside down.
I used to sing to my mom as she was going through this hard time. When she would lay in bed, crying so much that she would throw up, I would sing that song to her. I sung "I’m Gonna Love You Through It" by Martina McBride.
My mom could relate to the song in every way because it let her know that I’d always be by her side. She was always my rock and for once I wanted to be hers.
Fast-Forward To Today
Now, eight years later, my mama is cancer free! The road to recovery was long and bumpy. My mom showed how tough she is. She taught me so much about never giving up and staying mentally tough. She told me it's that one step forward after the fall that matters the most and makes the most impact. If it weren’t for my mom’s bravery and strength, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.