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October 27, 2010
From fifth until eighth grade I lived with my mom. During my sixth grade year, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s a common cancer, but being young, it only lead me to thinking the worst. I remember when I found out I was at school. All my teachers automatically started acting nicer to me, and asking me if I wanted to talk to them about it. This made me both confused and angry. I knew that they were only trying to help, but I never liked getting so much attention. Soon my parent teacher conferences weren’t even about my grades anymore. The topic was always how my mom was doing. It was suffocating my life and I wanted all of it to go away.

Everyone kept bringing up all these percentages of the survivors, and telling me the chances of her living were good. I almost didn’t want to hear it anymore, even though it was making me feel better. When I got home things were only worse. It was like waking up from a good dream every time. My mom has always been a negative person. She never looks on the bright side, and assumed everything bad. I guess I know now where I get some of my attitude from. Her stress caused her to say things that were a little rough to say to a twelve year old. She would mention things like “Nicole, they found my cancer too late, chances are I won’t live.” After she said that, I didn’t know how to react. I wanted so badly to scream at her but I couldn’t find it in me to do that, so I just walked away. It stressed me out more than she could even realize. I no longer thought about myself all the time. She was always in my mind.

As the chemo and radiation therapy kicked in, it got harder for the both of us. She only had me to lean on, and I only had her to be there for me as well. When her hair started falling out, it became more of a reality for me. I had never seen my mom bald. Her eyebrows were gone, and her skin pigmentation was completely faded to a pale white. She always wore these little caps to hide her loss of hair. I remember playing dress up with those little caps but the wigs were the best part. When my friends would come over, I’d pass out all the different hairstyles, and we’d take videos pretending to be someone else. My mom never minded me using her stuff; I think she found it entertaining herself. She never wore her wigs but she continued to order them anyways. I think the whole time she was doing it for me. I’ve learned that humor is my way of coping with serious issues, though the fun only lasted so long.

As time went on, her energy was slowly getting less and less. That left me doing most of the house work. Doing all of her work didn’t bother me because it was for a good cause. It was mostly just the basic chores like laundry and dishes.

Some days between my mom’s chemo and radiation, her nerves and emotions were a little off. It’s normal for this to happen with cancer patients. I’d come home from school, and she’d just be crying for unexplainable reasons. Seeing that made me only feel worse than I already did, and amplify my worries for her. It’s traumatizing being young, and witnessing an adult in your life show weakness. They’re the ones who are supposed to assure you everything’s going to be okay. In my case, I was the one giving her the comfort.

The thing that often came up in my mind was the fact that it runs in my family. It wasn’t helping that all my aunts had died from this same cancer. I noticed that when I would hang out with my friends, it wasn’t the same. I grew more self reserved, and quiet. I wasn’t doing this for attention; it just came natural. Most of my thoughts were in my mind, and it left little room to think about anything else.

A little after a year went by, my mother’s hair started coming back, and things were once again on track. She returned to working, except not at the job she had before. After this experience she was inspired to become a nurse. She says I was the person who made her realize that helping people feels rewarding.

By the start of my eighth grade year was when things were almost completely back to normal. My mom always had so much energy and wanted to do something exciting everyday. I think she was trying to make up for all those times she couldn’t bring herself to getting out of bed. She had a new obsession with fishing, and we went almost everyday if the weather was good enough. It really brought us closer and it was something we both enjoyed doing.

It makes me proud to know that through all of this hardship, we both came out with some ease. She has become a nurse, and I have become a stronger person. I know now that I have the skills to live on my own, and face the world.





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CarliGossard said...
Nov. 11, 2010 at 9:08 am
Nicole, this is amazing. This piece inspired me to be a better writer. And to appreciate my mom for who she is. Thank you so much. You have really made an impact on my life.
 
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