In August 2016, my family was given news that no one ever wants to get. The “C” word, cancer, had once again become a part of my family. My mom had been diagnosed with cancer again, and this time was more serious than before.
As my brother and I were both at work, my mom and dad were sitting in her doctor’s office where they found out the severity of her tumor. As planned, my brother and I met them for dinner but instead at a friend’s house where we would later be prayed over by the elders in our church. As we walked into the house, we had no knowledge of what my parents had just been told, but my gut instinct told me that it was not good. We all gathered at the table for dinner. My mom started catching us up on what her doctor told her. She explained how her doctor drew her tumor on a white board. Then he told her how he could not move it, meaning it was attached to the bone. It took me a moment to process what she had just said. At this point, I could not seem to wrap my head around the thought that my mom had just been told she could maybe get two more years. Tears filled my eyes and there was no stopping them.
That week was filled with doctors appointments to prepare my mom to start chemo. As she was gearing up to fight her battle, there was a battle that I had to prepare for as well. No one really talks about what it is like to be related to someone battling cancer. Little did I know that my mom getting cancer would actually become a blessing in disguise. Through this time, I learned a whole new level of being selfless. I have also grown and matured. My dad and I became the “housewives.” We cooked, cleaned, and went to the grocery store. We also became her driver. With her “chemo brain,” my dad banned her from diving herself anywhere. I not only had to take care of my mom, but myself, which included my job, and trying to finish my last year of college. Some days it seemed as if I could not get it all done.
For the most part, we were strong and seemed to be handling the whole situation well. But in reality, we were human. We all had our moments of weakness. Mine happened towards the beginning whenever we first got the news. I found myself overwhelmed and emotional at times. Around December, my mom was scheduled for a very extensive surgery. I was more worried about the surgery than anything else, but everything went great. It was after surgery that was hard. My mom could barely do anything for the rest of December. She needed help more than before, and with the added stress of finals I just could not help but breakdown. I had so much going on that I could not keep it together. Thankfully, even when my mom was not at her best, she was still there to listen to me and remind me that I needed to not put so much pressure on myself.
My mom posted weekly updates on Facebook so her friends and family could know how she was doing. This meant that everyone knew what my family was going through. I was not a fan of this, though. I’m more of a private person. Everyone knowing my business was not my preference. During this time, my mom was unable to do things that she would normally do. Some days the chemo made her so sick that she could not attend church. In the winter, she did not attend church because of her low white blood cell count. She did not want to risk getting sick during flu season. Even though she was keeping everyone in the know, there were still questions about how she was doing. Have you ever been asked a question so many times that your brain has a set answer for the question? That’s how it was for me. I had been asked so many times, “How’s your mom? How are you doing? Do y’all need anything thing?” that I often did not even fully hear the question before I knew my answer. As much as I appreciated all of the support from everyone, I still found myself longing for the day that life would go back to the way it use to be. We are not there yet, but with my mom officially done with chemo and almost done with radiation, we are closer to the end of this long battle.
This was not anything that a family wants to go through, but we are better for it. We watched God perform many miracles that changed the outcome of my mom’s prognosis – she is cancer free and will be with us for many years to come. As a family, we are more unified and for me individually, I am more compassionate and mature. I never would have guessed the blessings God had in store for us through all the pain and heartache we endured. I am grateful for it all.