A Year to Remember

March 7, 2011
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My sixth grade year my dad set us down for a talk. My brother, Alex, and I came skipping to our living room expecting nothing was wrong. My dad started off saying, “Guys, it was a rough summer. Lots of things have been going on. I know that it was not the best summer and not what you wanted to do…”
The truth was that summer we had been in a ton of camps. We did not know why. Normally we travel, go to different museums in D.C., visit family, and go to parks of all kinds. This year was different. We had camps almost every day or went to visit family. When we did ask why they just said something like, “This year was different,” or “We just wanted to see how you would like it.”
That’s when my thoughts drifted back to the “meeting” that I had zoned out of temporarily. “Mom has cancer.” This really stunned me. I did not know how to react. What should my emotions be? I could feel my face changing without my brain telling it to. My jaw dropped a bit and my vision turned blurry with burning tears. Without knowing what I was doing I looked at Alex. He was only eight; how would he be able to handle this? He seemed to be in the same state that I was in. Then every memorable thing that we had done as a family popped into my head. Then I imagined those memories without my mom. I was scared.
Then my dad started talking again saying how everything would be okay. He said that her treatments for the cancer would start in a few months and would last the whole school year. The doctors where surprised: my mom was always healthy. She went on walks regularly; she ate healthy foods and never drank or smoked. The meeting ended, and we went to sleep, even though it was forty five minutes too early. That night (and many nights after this) it was hard for me to sleep. Thoughts clouded my mind. I could not think about anything but the rest of the year and what it would be like. I could not imagine how my life would change if it turned out badly.

Four months later my Mom’s cancer was treated with radiation and chemo, and three surgery treatments. These treatments blasted radiation into my mom’s neck to take out the cancer. The chemo caused her to feel sick, weak and tired. She was bed bound for our whole school year. She had to get a feeding tube implanted into her stomach so that she could eat because her neck was sore and swollen. What she had to put through the feeding tube was worse. It tasted like vanilla soy milk that had gone bad. My mom did not taste it, though, because the feeding tube went through her stomach.
Relatives flocked in from the cracks to help us. They came from all over the United States. Care packages came in from people my parents knew for a few months with fruit, muffins, soaps, shampoos, and jellies. Cards came saying, “Everything Will Be Okay,” and “Hang In There,” when we knew that it really was not just “Okay”.
Relatives always took good care of us making sure we always had clean clothes and something filling to eat every night but nothing was as good as when my Mom did it. The clothes would always smell better and would be softer. My mom’s food would not be smothered in bacon fat and brown sugar and cooked at 350 degrees for three hours.
Because my room is the guest room, the relatives had to stay in my room. So this meat that I had to spend the night in my brother’s Lego - coated room for the school months. I watched as my room was consumed by relatives. Everything about my room had changed; the sorting of my pictures and the way my clothes were in my closet (due to the relatives doing my laundry) , for instance even the fresh springlike air in my room became polluted with strong perfumes. Friends couldn’t even come over for sleepovers because I didn’t have a room to stay in.
Every time the relatives dropped me off at the bus stop (“So I wouldn’t catch cold”) they would always have to say, “It will be okay.” I wanted to believe that but there was always that thought in the back of my head driven by negativity. Sometimes I thought that nothing would be the same. I thought that this would be my life forever. I could not wrap my head around the negativity, and I did not want to talk about it to anyone.
One year later, everything was fitting into place; mom was walking around and helping us do homework. Slowly relatives stopped leaking into our house ,and care packages stopped coming daily. The letters still came, saying, “Congrats. You Did It”, and “WOW! The Roller Coaster of Life Took You on a Crazy Ride.” Those were sayings that I could agree with.
Today my Mom is living life to the fullest. When I look back on that year, that seemed to never end, I am so grateful for everyone who helped us. If anything were to ever happen again like this to our family members I hope that they get the same amazing people that we had to help us.
Since she has had cancer, my mom has done the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, a forty-two mile walk through DC and its suburbs. She has helped my grandmother survive cancer for the second time and has helped other people who have had cancer. I will always be grateful for the people who helped us get through the year to remember.

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luv2teach said...
Apr. 19, 2011 at 8:50 am


Thank you for sharing from your heart the difficulties that you and your family had to endure durng that year. Through God's grace I pray that blessings will continue to flow for all of you. Please know that you are loved and appreciated! Job well done:)

Jack H. said...
Mar. 14, 2011 at 11:42 am
Allyson, at the time back then when we were just hearing of your Mom's cancer diagnosis, one of my close friends here at work took his three year old daughter (Ella) to the Dr. because she was complaining of headaches.  After several visits it was decided to send her to CHKD for a CAT scan where she was diagnosed with a very rare type of brain tumor.  The location of the tumor almost made it impossible to operate on.  Well after months of chemo the tumor reacted neg... (more »)
U_No.4 said...
Mar. 13, 2011 at 10:34 am

Good therapy, great story- especially the HAPPY ending!!! Profs have told me to write what you know and what you care about.  You certainly did. 

Love, #4

Mom S. said...
Mar. 13, 2011 at 9:44 am
You gave me so much will and determination when I was fighting cancer.  We have had so many thing to celebrate since then...and being published is yet another!  Great story.  Keep writing!
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