Lessons from Mom

Cancer is a killing disease.

Everybody knows somebody that has struggles with the disease or has a close one who has. You never think that you are the next person that will be affected by it, but life works in strange ways.

It was the beginning of my junior year of high school when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. A yearly checkup turned into something so much more. My mother’s struggle changed a lot in my family dynamic, and it hurts to see somebody you love to struggle with any type of sickness. My mom had sat me, my younger brother, and younger sister down after dinner— something that wasn’t in our normal routine. The minute I sat down and saw the serious look on her face I knew it was something big. With my own mind racing with ideas, we shared a moment of silence that seemed to last forever. My mom never sugarcoats anything, and I’ve always respected her for that, so when she outright said, “I have breast cancer,” I knew it was the real deal. My beautiful mother with her long blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes had a killing disease. The news in the beginning blindsided me in shock. I’ve always heard from friends about their mom gets cancer, or their grandpa gets it, and you never think it’s going to be you next.

My heart raced on what our family was going to do because my mom has always been the backbone of our family. She’s always been one of the strongest women in my life and to know she will being sick made me nauseated. However, when she explained it more, I realized that they had caught it extremely early, but she would still need to have major surgery. Even with the blessing with the discovery being so early, I knew my life would change drastically.

The biggest change was the extra responsibility that I had to take on. With me being the oldest kid in the household and my siblings still being in middle school I took on a new role in the family. While my parents were gone for my mom’s surgeries, I was the one at home making sure everybody had lunch, had a ride to school, and survived until they got back, and I was overwhelmed a lot. It was one of the toughest years I’ve ever had, and I slipped in my own personal mental health, physical health, and schoolwork. I didn’t know how to handle being the one my siblings looked to when they had a bad day or how to continue being strong even if I felt like my own life was falling apart. I coped with eating too much and not caring to even brush my hair most days. School just seemed so meaningless when I had so much on my plate.

It also took a toll on me when my mom came back. She needed somebody to help her do everyday things like showering, cooking, and even just eating. It was so strange how my mom had been my support all my life and was always the one that helped me with anything and now the roles were reversed. It took me back to the pictures of when she would be feeding me or bathing when I was little. Here I was a junior in high school washing her back in the very tub she washed mine. After her last surgery that she told me, “Grace you have kept this family together through all of this, thank you.”

Money, materialistic things, a high GPA, and getting into college are seen as some of the most important things in life to a high schooler, but I learned different. None of that matter if my loved ones weren’t there with me. What really matters are the bonds that I have with other people and how can help others. I will remember this lesson for the rest of my life that sometimes I must sacrifice myself for those that I love. My family and my more are blessed that all her surgeries were successful. She has her beautiful blonde hair back and sparkling blue eyes returned as well as being cancer free for almost a year now. The hug she gave me once she got the news made me a crying mess, but those tears of joy made me happy than ever.

Grace Tath

I am a freshman at Stephens College. I play softball and am majoring in Fashion Marketing and Management. I'm originally from Iowa and love baking.

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