Today’s topic might hit a nerve with some people, and if you had asked me to talk about this subject a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have liked to either. Three years on, it’s important to be able to talk about these things.
I remember the day so clearly. It was Tuesday October 4th 2011 and I was late home from school due to a Youth Council meeting, and hanging out with my friends Kaila and Stu afterwards. Stu was waiting to go see Footloose with his girlfriend, making jokes about people with loose feet and Kaila was waiting for the next bus home. Other than that, I can’t remember much of the conversation we had. Idle chit-chat; not important in the grand scheme of things.
I arrived home and went into my room. My mom asked me if she could talk to me upstairs, and as I slowly walked up the stairs in my house, I was wracking my brain for some idea as to why I was being summoned. I could not think of anything that I could be in trouble for and I was confused as to why we couldn’t talk about it downstairs.
I sat on my mom and dad’s bed and so did she. Looking at me straight in the eye, she told me that she had found a lump when we were on holiday in Canada that summer and she had now been diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
I sat there in shock as she asked me if I had any questions about it, telling me it was okay if I needed a cry. I looked up with a watered-down smile and asked “what’s for dinner?”
“I knew I could count on you to make me laugh” was her reply. Somebody had to be the comic relief, right?
From there until April of the next year were some of the worst and most difficult times of my life- I hated seeing my mom so unwell knowing there was nothing I could do to change it, that I couldn’t help her.
School was hard. Mom had called the guidance counsellor so the school knew what was going on. I didn’t let anyone know for quite a while just because I wanted normality. That however isn’t a good idea because that requires smiling on days when you only want to cry and having to listen to people talk about others who had died of cancer (Steve Jobs was the latest victim of the big C at the time).
The story follows the usual timeline, hair loss due to chemo, people trying to lighten the mood (or tell you they know how you’re feeling, when they clearly have no fucking idea), radiation and finally, getting the all-clear in the middle of 2012. It was such a relief.
Mom is okay now and she such an inspiration for me. She never let herself become negative or pessimistic and she could have so easily let that happen. Getting so close to losing someone just increases your love for them; for you family and friends. This awful thing that happened has also been a constant source of perspective for me when I think stuff is getting really bad- a bad day at work, not having the time to finish a project, whatever. This always reminds me that things aren’t as bad as they seem, every cloud has a silver lining.
One thing that I cannot forget to mention is the wonderful support my family had during this time. Friends were such a help to me; I leaned on them way more than any person should have to support another- and I am so grateful for that. Family were always around and we all had one another to talk to if we needed. I cannot thank the people who helped us during that time enough. I have so much love for all of them.
I’m gonna leave it there- I think that’s enough reading for people! I just want people to know that it is something that you can live with and I would like to help anyone as much as I can when they have to deal with something like this. So that’s my difficulty.
Until next time,