I’m Gonna Love You Through It
In my past blogs, I have done everything from map out the next five years of my life, to addressing relationship issues, to comparing myself to popular T.V. idols. Despite all of this, I have yet to share one of the biggest parts of my life with my readers, and the urge to do so has been pulling at my heart for weeks. I do have a disclaimer: I do not intend for this post to in any way be a downer, or to sound like I am whining. I would rather like to take this opportunity to share with everyone an aspect of my life of which I rarely speak, but which has recently come to the forefront of my life once again.
The year that I turned eight years old, my mom came home to my sister and me and explained that she had cancer. Being the eight-year-old that I was, I didn’t completely understand what that meant but I did understand that it wasn’t good. I now know that her cancer began in the stomach lining, and would eventually spread. As my mom began her first round of chemo, and later her second, I grew up (as cliché as it might sound) at a much faster rate than typical children. I have attempted to communicate this in my past blogs, but here it is: I am a people pleaser; I naturally take charge during difficult situations, and I almost always assume the role of mother. Even today, I have had people call me “Mamma Kappa,” despite my attempts to bury my mothering habits. So, when I say that I grew up fast, I do not blame my mom’s illness, but I do believe that those circumstances combined with my natural personality led me to develop as I have.
After two rounds of chemotherapy, my mom had lost most of her hair and was practically on bed rest for around a year. Later she would undergo a full hysterectomy as a result of the cancer spreading. During this time, I went about my business being Ashley, transitioning into middle school, doing my homework and chores, and looking out for my little sister, who is three years younger than I am. During this hard time for my family, I took it upon myself to look out for my little sister, because it’s in my nature. I had high hopes that my mom would stay in remission, and for a while things looked good. Yet, the year I turned twelve things took a turn for the worse.
The summer that I turned twelve, my sister and I stayed with my grandparents in Myrtle Beach for six weeks. It was a really great summer, but after a little while I did miss my mom and dad. When they came to get my sister and me, they sat us down and explained that my mom had lymphoma. For those whom do not know, lymphoma is a cancer that typically spreads throughout your entire body by infecting the many lymph nodes. These are the things that get swollen when you are sick. At this time, my mom told us the doctors said that there was nothing they could do for her, and that she had about a year to live.
As a twelve year old girl, the first thing I did was call my best friend and have a good cry. I wasn’t ready for my mom to die, and it seemed like nothing would ever get better. Even at twelve, I thought of how my mom would never be at my wedding, would miss my prom, and would never meet her grandchildren. My family was devastated, and for the next year or two we lived life on the edge.
Now here’s the kicker: my mom did not die. She is still alive today, and we have worked on getting answers to everything. From what I understand, she has a slow moving cancer, and the prognosis she was given was a misleading one. At this stage of my life, I have gotten used to the fact that my mom is okay, that we can move on. Up until a few weeks ago, I assumed that we would continue to cope with her many health problems and go along our merry way.
Around three weeks ago, my mom called me to tell me that she now has colon cancer. She begins treatment next month, and she is hoping to do alternative therapy that does not include chemo, because her body cannot take any more of the radiation. When she told me this, my chest got tight and all I could think was, “What am I supposed to feel?” I kept thinking that a normal daughter would cry or scream or something, but all I could give her was silence. I don’t know how to feel; I don’t know what to think. The harsh truth is: my mom was supposed to die eight years ago. I have loved the time that I have had with her, and I don’t know how to handle this change. It is personally difficult for me because I feel like I’ve lived my life on the edge, always looking out for the sadness. I had let myself move on from that, but suddenly it has come back to my life in full force.
Lately, I have found myself testy, stressed, and angry with everyone around me. There has been a change in my attitude, and writing this post has, in some ways, helped me accept the feelings I have and the confusion I feel.
I wrote this for two reasons: 1) this has been pressing on my heart. I haven’t been myself, and, in some ways, this is an explanation and an apology for those I have been mistreating. 2) I know that I am not the only LMU student that has been affected by cancer. Whether it is you, a family member, or a friend, we all know someone with a form of the disease. I want everyone out there to know that you are not alone. Maybe in your heart you’re feeling much like I am, flooded with confusion and stress and a thousand other emotions. It’s okay though. None of us are alone.
If anyone would like to speak with me about your own experiences, please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.