*You don't have to read this, but it would mean so much if you did.*
How Breast Cancer Ruined My Life and Stole My Best Friend
I was young and ignorant so I don’t remember much of what happened, but I can still tell you what life is like growing up with out knowing if you will have a mom the next day, or if you will get to say goodbye.
When I was 5 my mom was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, I had absolutely no idea what was going on. My sister and I were both Homeschooled so we went everywhere with my mom, so I remember going to the doctor’s office. After the doctor had told my mom, she was crying and we had no clue what was happening, so we hugged her. I remember that she took us to the dollar store and we got to pick out toys. It seems like such a minuscule detail, but in reality it means a lot. My parents tried to tell us, and my sister, because she was 11 probably understood more, but I just knew that something was wrong. I really don’t remember anything after this up until 3rd grade except for my mom going to the doctor every day, and always coming back so tired, but she never gave up.
When I was in the 3rd grade, I think I was 8, I was still being Homeschooled, I would have assignments on the computer and go to the homeschool youth group, and I had just recently started playing the violin. My mom was always the musical one, she was such a good singer and she played the clarinet, and the piano too. Sometimes I think when I was younger my mom got more into me playing and practicing than I did, and I’m really glad she did, because I probably wouldn’t still be playing today if she hadn’t pushed me to excel. I remember she had lost her hair earlier on and had been wearing a wig or a bandana regularly, but the cancer had gone into remission and her hair came back and she was happier and not a tired and we did more fun things as a family.
When we went to Rome, Pompeii, and Sicily, for 2 weeks, when I was 9, the Summer before 4th grade, I was excited, we all were. But then my dad told us that my mom’s cancer had come back and that this might be the last trip all together as a family. I didn’t take this as a warning that my mom could possibly die soon. I’m not sure if I even thought anything of it., at least not until my mom started losing her hair again, halfway through the trip. I remember that she came out of the bathroom after taking a shower, she was sobbing and she held clumps of her hair in her hands. We tried to not let affect the trip. We tried to help her forget about it, but that’s not an easy thing to do. It was our last big trip together as a family.
I remember that later that summer we visited a large portion of my mom’s family. They lived only about 2 hours away so we drove to visit them. While we were there, we didn’t really hint at anything, we didn’t really have to. She looked sick and that was enough to make everyone else sad, but everyone did their best to hide it. If there was one thing my mom didn’t like it was people feeling sorry for her. One thing that I remember pretty clearly, was that one-day my mom and my younger cousin, he was about 4, went for a walk. After they got back my mom had to rest, so she took off her wig before she lay down. My cousin, not knowing any better asked my mom why she had no hair. She just told him that she was sick and the medicine took her hair. He replied, “Well, I still think you look beautiful Aunt Karen.” This memory just really touches my heart and I really think that it improved everyone’s moods, and that it made everyone happier.
I remember in 4th grade that my parents were telling me that I was going to have to start going to public school. I begged and pleaded not to go. It wasn’t even so much that I didn’t want to go to public school. It was more that I was afraid of that my mom was going to pass away and that I wasn’t going to be at home. When I told my mom this, she promised me that this wouldn’t happen. I don’t know how, but she always kept her promises, even the ones she really didn’t have control over. I did end up going to school after all, but I still have bad memories from then. My mom would go to the doctor basically everyday, then she would come home and fall asleep. The school I went to didn’t have a bus service so parents had to pick you up. I was left at school for hours some days. My dad was a doctor so he worked late hours and often times the school would have to call my emergency contacts just to pick me up from school.
The last year I had with my mom, I was 10 and in 5th grade, she was the sickest she had ever been, and looking back at pictures from then makes me sick. She was so thin, and so pale. Most days she wouldn’t get out of bed. I remember that sometimes we would bring her breakfast but she could never finish and would usually throw it up anyway. We would want to take her to the hospital, but she always told us that the last place that she wanted to die was in a hospital.
It was almost thanksgiving, the weekend before to be exact. Everything had seemed normal, except my cousins, who usually only visited in the Summer or at Christmas, were visiting. Also, my grandparents were visiting. I once again thought nothing of it. We were just playing card games and goofing around like we usually do. Then my dad came and asked to talk to my sister, and then my sister came and talked to me. My dad had told my sister that he thinks my mom is going to die today. So we all went to my mom’s room and we called our Pastor and he came and said prayers. There was a sad slow violin song stuck on repeat in the CD player. There were candles burning, rose and vanilla scents all throughout the air. We all said things that made us laugh and cry we just kept her smiling until the end. Slowly everything just sort of stopped working. I was holding her hand and trying my hardest not to cry. It’s one thing to watch someone die, but it’s another thing to watch your own mom die. To see and feel the life fading from her eyes as you hold her hand. November 19th, 2006 will forever be the worst day of my whole life because I lost my best friend.