On Mother’s Day this past weekend, I spent time with my mother and grandmother. We did the usual things people do on this holiday like drink too many mimosas, and a good time was had by all.
I picked out some charms for a bracelet my mom wears — one of which was a glass bead with a breast cancer ribbon painted on it. I joked with my brother that it seemed insensitive to remind my cancer survivor mother of this traumatic event in her life, but my mother instead decided to wear it proudly.
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For reference, my mom is probably the unhealthiest healthiest person I’ve ever known. She’s been dealt an unfair hand over health over the years — cancer, included — but you wouldn’t know it if you knew her. She’s incredibly gracious and proud of her good fortune in other ways, and I think even more proud she’s overcome so many obstacles.
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in her mid-40s. I was 15 at the time; as the years wore on, my high school memories were not filled with football games, track meets, study sessions and parties, but surgeries, hospital stays, chemotherapy sessions, and the overwhelming fear of losing my mother.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t an easy battle — her cancer had spread into her lymph nodes and other parts of her body; but she did everything she could to beat it — and she did. And she did so privately.
For years, my mother told as few people as she could possibly get away with. Deeply personal, she didn’t want the unneeded attention or well-wishers or sympathy that often came along with such an illness. She wore a wig in public, hid her surgeries and scars and went to chemotherapy and radiation treatments in private.