Cancer Sucks

My personal journey with the disease



In 2008, I received news I never wanted to hear. News no one should have to hear. My mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I was in sixth grade at the time, and previously the scariest thing I’d ever dealt with was finding a spider in the house. She went through chemotherapy and radiation. By the end of her treatments, she was declared cancer-free.

The spring of 2010, my mom had pain in her hip, which was thought to be from slipping on ice the winter before. Just to be safe, she went to the doctor and everything looked fine. At one of her routine cancer checkups, they took an X-ray. Some spurs of “arthritis” showed up. Except it wasn’t arthritis, or I wouldn’t be writing this.

My mom started to have vision problems and bad headaches. Everywhere we went, doctors didn’t have answers. My dad and I left on a mission trip, both worried about her. While we were gone, my dad received a phone call from someone back in Albert Lea saying my mom thought she had a stroke. She was taken to St. Mary’s in Rochester, where she was re-diagnosed with cancer. She never made it home.

A favorite poem of mine is titled: “What Cancer Cannot Do.” It goes like this:

“Cancer is so limited.

It cannot cripple love.

It cannot shatter hope.

It cannot corrode faith.

It cannot eat away peace.

It cannot destroy confidence.

It cannot kill friendship.

It cannot shut out memories.

It cannot silence courage.

It cannot reduce eternal life.

It cannot quench the Spirit.”

– Author Unknown

These words have carried me through so much these last five years of my life. From going to school when my mom was home sick, to going to school knowing my mom wouldn’t be home at the end of the day.

Cancer works in a terrible way. I’ve never gotten to go prom dress shopping with my mom and I’ll never get to go wedding dress shopping with my mom. I don’t get to share my excitement with her about going to college. She never got to see me get my first car. There are a lot of things we have to do in life that I find myself unable to handle simply because I want my mom with me through it.

One time, I even got made fun of in middle school because my mom didn’t have hair, a result of the chemotherapy treatments. A boy Mrs. Maier’s seventh grade math class said these exact words to me: “I bet your mom doesn’t have hair because she dyed it too many times and it fell out.” I got up and walked away. I held it together pretty well. That boy is lucky because any other person might have lost their temper right then and there.

If you have no idea what someone is going through, don’t open your mouth about it. If you know and you’re just a jerk, really don’t open your mouth about it. Those words were said to me in seventh grade and they will stick with me forever.

Cancer can tear you apart and break you down, even if you’re not the one physically fighting it. Too many families are broken by this disease and too many lives are lost way too young. Cancer can take many things away from you, but no matter how it affects you, never let it take away things that mean the most in life to you.

Being resilient in life is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned. Although times may be hard, you have to learn to bounce back.