I woke up to a cold April day. The sun slowly creeping over the horizon. Got up and got ready for school. Put on some Vans and walked there. Listening to my earbuds. Like I normally do; but this day felt different. I knew that Mom had to go to the doctor, and has a risk of a lump being cancer. I pushed it out of my head though. Today was gonna be my day, no matter how terrified I was of the results. As the day of being so called ‘trapped’ in school (like all the kids call it), the last bell rang and I ran home. Mom was out of the house, while Dad looked filled with emotion.
He took me and my brother to sit down on the couch. I was confused on why he wanted to talk to us personally. Same with his gloom look.
“Mom has cancer.”
I didn’t know how to reply. I felt like I was getting slapped in the face. I immediately remembered a kid at my school asking if I’m the Lauren that’s mom had breast cancer. I got defensive. Was he making fun of my mom? It got me upset, so I insulted him. He looked puzzled and confused. He sincerely apologized, as it turns out, there was another Lauren that has a mother who got sick. Now I’m the Lauren with the sick mom, too.
When Mom came home from the doctors, she did crying. I remember everyone going into Jaren’s room and huddling up. Everyone was sentimental. Seeing such a thing lead me straight to writing out my emotions.
I wrote in my notebook about anything. I wrote how Mom’s family came over to pray and comfort her. How she looked. Her image was broken and despairing. She looked scared of losing it all.
When her hair started falling out, we all had a hair shaving party. My hairdresser now, Kendra, dyed all our hair pink in Mom’s honor. Everyone added pink to their hair. Even Grandpa Fred. But, it was emotional after all the dying. Because it was time for Mom to shave all her long, silky brown hair. I’ve never seen Mom with short hair. She always had it over her shoulders. She was really upset to be losing that. As Kendra got the shears by her head, we watched as the brown strands fell to the ground. Mother was sobbing, even Dad teared up; but he stayed strong for her.
Skip forward some time, Mom’s chemos been leaving her weak. The purple lines around her eyes only got darker. Most people don’t know this but chemo is terrifying and sucks. The movies are totally wrong. ‘Get a couple treatments and you’re healed!’ Not. I wish it was like that. It was way more deeper. Mom’s nose was always bleeding and she wouldn’t eat for a week after a chemo. Some nights she wouldn’t even have the strength to get to her bed. Once Dad set up a mattress in the living room for her to sleep on while he slept on the couch. Dad and I would go to Target and get her food she’d eat. Jello and Bomb Pops. Anything at all. She was so weak. Whenever she stood up, she’d get dizzy. That made Dad nervous. Whenever she’d leave the couch, he’d follow. Just to make sure.
One morning I woke up to something running around outside my room. We have two cats and a dog, so maybe it was just them playing. Like normal. But it wasn’t. I could hear my Dad’s stern voice and Jaren saying something. I checked my phone. It wasn’t too late in the afternoon, it was about 11. I got up, leaving the comfort of my warm blankets and creaked open my door to look. We have a relatively small house so I could see right to the kitchen down the stairs. Jaren and Dad were on the wood floor, kneeling down to something. Mom was on the floor passed out. The chemo had got her to faint. Dad told me afterwards, crying, that she looked dead.
The only time I fully remember seeing her take a fall was I believe: her last chemo. We were getting ready for bed and I was in my room. I heard a shampoo bottle fall and Dad yelled; “Everything okay?” She didn’t respond so he opened the door and saw her laying on the floor. He yelled again for us to get some water and a pillow. I remember hearing her mumble nonsense and trying to get up. Of course Dad wouldn’t let her. When we got her up and to her bed, she told Dad what she remembered of that. She said everything went black.
Fast forward a couple months, I was at our lovely cabin. My favorite cousins were there, and my grandparents are always there to make us food. It’s great but has no WIFI so it’s easy to complain as a teen. I have a ton of memories here. My grandpa would take me out on the fourwheeler. Sometimes we’d go to the McGregor lake and I’d bring my camera to take pictures. They worked out very well most of the time. It had alluring glimmering waters. When we went back, we’d see lovely wildlife. Like skunks, deer, raccoons and one time a black bear.
Anyhow, Mom had a surgery, and now has to do radiation. (Basically if you don’t know what that is, it’s a laser that kills any leftover cancer cells.) But no more chemo. Which means her hair is growing back. We all sat in the living room, sitting at the table with some food. Mom heard her phone ring so she took it and went to a different room. She walked out and said that the doctor called and told her that there was no more cancerous cells left. Everyone got so happy and mostly everyone starting crying. Now I don’t know if this counts, but my grandpa sniffled and wiped his eyes. I’ve never seen him close to crying. Family was hugging Mom while Jaren and I sat at the table. Confused but happy.
By the time it was time to sleep, we went on the loft that has big windows. Which allowed us to see deers and the moon shine. I flopped on the bed and grabbed my little cancer plushie. That I got it from the Angel foundation. It came in a drawstring bag and had a booklet for kids of cancer parents in there, too. The plushie is of Dr. Seuss’s Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose. I love that guy and he’s the only toy that hasn’t been completely destroyed by Sawyer.
As of now, Mom has been going to weekly checkups, but is done with radiation completely. She had a surgery to remove her ovaries, since that caused the breast cancer. After all of the pain my family has been through last year, it’s finally coming to an end. Like having normal family time. Recently, I was showing Mom a TV show, the guy lost his wife to breast cancer and now had two boys to take care of. She started crying. It’s a sad topic, I know. But she was crying because she said that could’ve been her. She’s always scared of losing us. She knows we’d be lost without her. And that only makes her worry, even as the cancer is gone. I told her that’s crazy. You should never live in fear of the past. Live with as much life as you can give. Be grateful for every moment you have. Life is a gift and we are so, so blessed.
(Yes, this is a true story. And yes, this is mine.)
Mom on the left, Dad on the right.