When cancer strikes close to home


Lexi Doll

Throughout her difficult treatment, my mom has managed not just to keep a smile on her face, but to keep the rest of us smiling, too.

Lexi Doll, Opinion Editor

The second you’re born, you expect your mom to take care of you.  She cares for you when you’re sick, when you’re sad, when you’re mad.  When you have such an amazing and hard working mother you don’t expect anything bad to ever happen to her, which is why my world was rocked this last Fall, when my mother discovered a lump in her left breast.  

She immediately scheduled an appointment for a mammogram.  The test came back questionable, which meant that the next steps were an MRI and multiple biopsies.  After weeks of anxiously awaiting the results, she was diagnosed with stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma.  Breast cancer.

I was in shock.  Within in the past few years I’ve had multiple family members die because of different kinds of this horrible illnesses, and I couldn’t help but think that my mom was next.  

Before treatment could begin, she needed to have the aggressive tumor removed.  The day of her surgery, my parents wouldn’t allow me to skip school. They didn’t want me to think of this as a major deal, even though it was.  Going to school that day was pointless; I didn’t listen so a single thing any teacher was saying. All I could think about was what my mom was going through.

Once the tumor was removed, she started her journey of chemotherapy, which would last four months in total.  The first couple of rounds went smoothly; she felt okay and still seemed to have all her hair. The third round of chemo is when things started to hit hard.  Fatigue kicked in and hair loss began. The whole ordeal had been difficult, but this is when watching my mom go through such horrific events started to affect  my mental health. I couldn’t be happy and I was too distraught to tell anyone what was going on. I didn’t even tell some of my closest friends that my mom was sick until after she started chemo, because I felt pathetic and like I was seeking attention.

The hardest part for me has been driving her to her chemotherapy appointments. Chemotherapy isn’t done in a hospital room where it’s just you and a doctor, it’s at a cancer center in a room full of dozens of other people fighting for their lives.  Seeing all of these sick people and realizing that my mom is now one of them is what really put things in perspective for me. Up until then, I had been in a state of denial, but that mindset is impossible to maintain at a cancer center. As difficult as it was, it was at the same time nice to finally realize that my family isn’t the only family going through this, and it’s okay to not be okay with it.  

This experience has taught me that it is important to take care of yourself during times of hardship.  I am not one to show emotions, and I often found myself having breakdowns out of nowhere due to pent up emotions that I had held in for weeks.  I never expected to need to take care of my own mother already at 18 years old, and it is difficult for me. It has also taught me to be more thankful for the people in my life, and my relationship with my mom has improved immensely since she was diagnosed.  I wish her getting cancer wasn’t what had to happen in order for our relationship to improve, but I’m grateful for her and her fight. Along this difficult road, I know that I am continuing to better myself, and I’ve learned that your most important lessons come not just when you are at your lowest, but when you’re helping someone along the way.