October symbolizes a number of pressing issues that everyone needs to be actively engaged in understanding, addressing, preventing to include domestic violence awareness, bullying prevention and breast cancer awareness month. Being aware is one side of the story, but having a loved one go through breast cancer is what gave me a new motivation for advocating and staying informed in the month of October and throughout the year.
2013, was the year it all happened.
My mom went to get a routine mammogram, saw a small lump and out of precaution, her doctor recommended she get a biopsy just to make sure it was nothing more than a cyst. It was that test to led to a few more that told us what no woman, mother or daughter wants to hear: it was stage 1 cancer. That year really rocked my world as my mom would now be fighting something neither of us could have imagined. Luckily, the cancer was just stage 1 meaning that it had not spread to other parts of her body. Even though it was a treatable stage of cancer, it still had me on pins and needles as any daughter would be - especially when your mom is your best friend. I just wanted her cancer to be gone. Thankfully, because her cancer was caught early on, she had the option of chemo or radiation at a hospital here in Boston. I went with her every day Monday through Friday early in the mornings to complete her treatments. I remembered how she looked tired afterward, but we both knew that each day of treatment meant another day of beating cancer.
On top of that, my mom had a kidney disease at the time of her cancer diagnosis. Thankfully, it came and went. She later got a kidney transplant. It was just a scary time, waking up crying, going online researching every stage, always worried. Cancer in different forms runs in my family, but every diagnosis has been its own journey. The thought of not having my mother made me question my own existence. I wouldn’t know how to exist. I’m a mommy’s girl at 33. The bond that we have is super strong. I wouldn't know how to function without her. We talk every day morning or evening. She wants to make sure she hears my voice every day. That year was one of our most difficult seasons.
As a daughter, all I could do was be her biggest ally. I was made every effort to be as supportive, comforting, and distracted her with every chance I could get. I found that laughter and intentionally keeping her preoccupied helped to keep and my mind off of the diagnosis on more on fighting back by living life to the fullest while getting the treatment that she needed. It now seems like a dream almost. It was the Cancer that came and went so fast that I have to think hard about what year it was, how long it’s been and what day it all happened.
As you support those you may know who are battling or have battled cancer in the past, rally around them. Let them know you care. Call them, visit them and remind them that they are not fighting this battle for healing and recovery alone.
I couldn’t be more thrilled that my mom made it through her diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from breast cancer. One day I was the supporter, the nurse, the ally, and now, as my MD develops, I need her more than ever.