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My mother is a strong woman. She goes by many names, Mommy, Diane, Rivet. However there is one that always sticks out of the crowd. Superwoman.
Invincible, is a word not often come by. There are not many things on this planet that are in fact invincible, almost none actually. However, my mom from the time that she entered this planet, until October 28, 2004, was.
I remember most vividly the rough edge of the brick digging fiercely into the palm of my sweaty hand, as I grasped the seat of the fireplace that I sat on. My whole body was numb, except for the occasional surging of blood to my head to keep me conscious. I dreaded the news to come, somehow I dreaded it. I have no idea how I knew, I was only seven. But somehow I knew that day, that my life was about to change.
The two syllable word cancer hit like a freight rain. It was a horrid word, almost cursed. It seemed to me as though if I said the word too much, that it would engulf us all completely and we would lose not only my mother, but the rest of the entire world as well. I couldn't help but somewhere deep inside wonder why it couldn't be someone else, some mass murderer, thief, evil person. My mother was the farthest thing from an evil person, she was the type of person that stressed to forgive those evil people. She was amazing, an angel on earth.
My mom underwent surgery as soon as possible.
I opened my eyes on that bitter cold day, and wished that my reality was a nightmare. I shook my head and opened my eyes again, hoping to wake up to something different, but I found the same empty room with a pink satin ribbon on the door. I walked outside to find my mother sitting at the table. She quickly wiped a tear away to give me a hug and send me off to school. I did not want to let go. I hoped to never let go.
It is surreal the feeling, the literal heart wrenching pain that a person experiences in that moment in time. Thinking that this could quite possibly be the last time I would ever see my mom, hug her, smell her, touch her, hear her voice. The last time her breath would be on the top of my head, her lips kissing my forehead telling me everything would be okay. It could have been the last time. But it wasn't.
I returned home that late afternoon after undergoing a long and dreadful day. The clock ticking by in slow motion, each hour second my mom's shirt pressed against my face as if she was next to me. The car ride home was almost unbearable, I had held myself together for so long. When we reached my house, I shoved open the heavy car door and burst into frantic hot tears. As I ran to the door, a fire began slowly burning up the back of my neck, a fear slowly began to take over my entire seven year old body. I reached the front steps finally to find my mother standing behind the glass, my dad's old baseball jersey cloaking her small sickly body. The door opened and there she was, real, alive, safe. She had made it out of surgery and was on her way to a hopeful recovery and cure.
My mom began radiation soon after that, and slowly but surely began looking more like her usual self. Although however she was on her way to a healthy lifestyle, my mother struggled immensely. It was hard for her to understand, that a healthy woman like her, who took her vitamins every morning, ate well, exercised, and was in tip top condition, could be overcome and infected with this cell forty times smaller than a grain of sand. On Christmas day when it snowed in New Orleans where we lived at the time, my mom sat at the window and cried, totally at a loss for what to do with herself. However, like she always told me, there is a light at every tunnel, and hers was coming soon.
My mom followed the very specific instructions of her doctor and once finished with radiation, began a medicine called tamoxifen that she was to stay on for eight years. The beginning of last year marked the eight year reunion of my mom being completely cured of her cancer. Now, my mom and I use that horrible experience as a reason to do good, and we remind all women in our lives every year around the time of October to get their yearly mammograms.
The pink satin ribbon that hung haunting my room for months still hangs in my room to this day, reminding me each and every second how strong, beautiful, and invincible my superwoman really is.