Things you learn when your mother is diagnosed with breast cancer

2006.2007.2008.2009.2015

2006-First diagnosed, first round of chemo after a few months

2007-Second round of chemotherapy

2008-Double Mastectomy

2009-Third and last round of chemotherapy

2015-Six years cancer free

There are certain things that happen in your life that will definitely change you. Having your mother being diagnosed with what is known as the number 2 leading cause of death of women in the United States can be devastating. As difficult as it is for her to have been going through something like that, all the while raising 4 children practically on her own…it stays with you. That determination, that fight..that strength. It’s something that you never forget.

You learn to be forever thankful for medicine, doctors and everything in between

I hate going to the doctor. Seriously, it just sucks. I mean who likes being sick right? But I tell you what, I will always be thankful for medicine, for doctors and nurses and everything else that falls into that category. Along with my mother’s strength, and fight they were able to make her a survivor and not just another victim. Chemotherapy in itself is such a strong treatment. The side effects alone can make someone just wish they were dead, and the fact is it really affects your body in ways you couldn’t imagine. But reality is, without it there probably wouldn’t be as many breast cancer survivors as there are. People probably wouldn’t be able to make it, diagnosis would literally mean the end because there wouldn’t be any treatment to try and get rid of this horrible killer. I sit back and think about how horrible it is to go to the doctor, then it hits me…this man (or woman) could technically be saving me…from myself, from my own body that is trying to kill me. That..is a great feat.

You understand how important it is to have your family’s support

Originally from Puerto Rico, most of our family is there. I say our because my mother’s family is pretty much all still on the island. Once my grandmother found out the situation, she literally dropped everything and moved to Florida. She sold her car, her furniture and everything so she could come and be supportive to her daughter. She came and helped me with my mother since at the time I was still in High School and trying to at least wing it. That is pretty much all the family support my mother had, to be honest it was all she really needed in combination with the support of myself and my three brothers. Granted, they were boys. I don’t think they could really grasp the severity of it all because my mother tried to make sure they saw what they needed to see, and of course they are younger than I am. I got the real deal, front row show. I was a young woman after all. This could easily happen to me, she needed me. I needed to be there for her, give her a reason to keep fighting.

You learn that strength can come from within you, when you need it most

We all struggle with things on a daily basis. Situations present themselves that sometimes we don’t even think are possible, we learn to handle them (as difficult as it may really be). We find the strength from places we didn’t know existed. You see motivation in things that would seem ordinary if the situation were different but then these things push you to be stronger because it gives you a reason to live. My mother said time and time again and till this day if you ask her what her motivation to keep fighting was..she will tell you that her kids are reason for it all. We were her reason. She found strength in herself to keep fighting and keep going because she knew she had to be there for her children. The oldest of my brothers just got married last week, if my mother would have given up…if she would have stopped fighting, she would not have been there to see him become a husband.  You see, going through something that threatens your future..your well being…your children’s lives, or you being a part of it…it’ll give you strength that you weren’t aware you even had in you.

You learn that you have to be positive, even in the worst situations

There is so much negativity to focus on while going through something like this, you have to find it in you to find some good to the bad. Everything has it’s “sweet and sour”. For example, Sour: Chemotherapy Sweet: the doctor telling you the mass has gotten smaller. See what I did there? I found the good within the bad. You gain an appreciation for this and it seriously doesn’t go away. If a friend or co-worker ever comes to me with a negative situation, the first thing that usually comes out of my mouth is “stay positive, you have to be positive”. The last thing to come out of my mouth is usually the same. Why? Because to be honest it’s the one thing you do have control over. You cannot control everything, there is not a way that is even plausible and you could worry yourself sick with trying to. What you can do, is take the sweet with the sour. Have a positive outlook and try to hope and pray that it goes in your favor.

As difficult as those years were for me, I know that they were twice as hard on my mother.  Knowing that, I know that these things will forever be engraved in me and are part of the reason why I am the woman I am today. That strength, determination and fight that my mother showed is something that I will never understand, although I was there and experienced it first hand I in no way could have put it all into words. I am glad she had that fight, that spark in her. For that I will forever be grateful.

You never really know what battles people are fighting, you could never really know what they have been through even if they tell you. It’s probably not something you could understand, and even if you did…everyone experiences everything so differently that no two are one in the same. Remember that.

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