Breast Cancer's Impact On My Mother

Breast Cancer's Impact On My Mother

Remembering what I watched my mother going through when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.


My new primary care practitioner asked me a lot of questions about my family's health history. I have quite a few chronic illnesses running through my family: high blood pressure, schizophrenia, diabetes, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, alcoholism. One I haven't talked about, though, is my mother's survival with breast cancer.

My mother was diagnosed earlier the same year I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. She discovered the lump in her chest on her own and went in to have it checked out. She started chemotherapy very soon afterward.

My mother has always been a healthy person, barely even getting colds. So it was beyond difficult to see her deteriorate. The chemo had her vomiting several times a day. She coughed a lot. She even coughed through her sleep. Then came the hair loss.

I can't tell you how many times I cried watching her go through this. How many times I'd check on her during the night to make sure cancer didn't take her in her sleep. Her coughing fits woke me up sometimes. Or maybe I was just so aware of them that they woke me.

I didn't understand why this had to happen to her. I wanted her to see me graduate from high school and college. I wanted her to see me get married. I wanted her to see me become a writer. I wanted her to see me succeed in the world.

Once the lump was gone, the doctors wanted to make sure it didn't come back. So my mom had to lose her left breast. Losing one of her breasts was one of the hardest things for my mother. For a while, it was difficult for her to believe she was a woman anymore.

I don't have the skill to describe to you the scar that's permanent across her chest where her left breast used to be.

Sometime later, her prosthetic breast came in the mail. Though she frequently had to keep my brother and me from playing with it, it made her feel a lot better. She was able to wear bras evenly again. She was able to wear her favorite shirts again. Once her hair grew back out, she was finally back to normal again.

Since my mother was diagnosed close to the age I am now, my doctor ordered me a breast exam. The first I'd ever heard of the exam was through my mother, and it sounded painful. Many other women since then have said how painful it is. So I figured that wasn't something I'd worry about till God willing I reached 40.

Yet at 37 here I was going to Metro Hospital to get my first breast exam.

The technician had me take off my deodorant since the majority of deodorants have aluminum in them making it show up on the images. She put some kind of special tape over my nipples before we officially began.

Since I'm very heavy chested, there had to be many images taken since my chest couldn't fit in just a few images. There were side images as well as direct images. I saw the need for the machine to come down on my breasts and make them flat, but that didn't make it any more comfortable.

Sometimes she had it come down really tight, other times it was just uncomfortable. The side view pictures were more painful than the direct pictures since my breast had to stay up at an unnatural angle on the machine. And of course, I had to hold my breath whenever a picture was being taken.

"What a test men came up with for us right?" the tech said to me as she was maneuvering my breast for another photo.

So there's a sneak peek into what a breast exam will be like. Though it's uncomfortable, it's needed.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month this month so consider scheduling a mammogram — even if you don't have a family history of breast cancer as I do.

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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.

Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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My Love-Hate Relationship with Starbucks

This is my oh so wonderful experience at Starbucks during the week of midterms.


When I usually go to Starbucks, I typically get the same type of drinks: carmel macchiato, chai tea latte, chestnut praline chai tea latte (which sadly is only a holiday drink), or a shaken black tea lemonade with light ice. However, sometimes a person just gets bored drinking the same three drinks over and over, so I thought, "Hey! lets get out of our comfort zone here pal and try something new." So I did I walked my tired stressed out self to Starbucks 10 minutes before my next class and ordered a tall cinnamon shortbread latte, I mean the description and other peoples comments about it made it sound super good.

As I was waiting for my drink I noticed that one of the baristas was having some issues with some type of syrup, but I thought that they would refill it and then add what they need, and that one probably wasn't even mine. When they did that, I saw them get a new jug of syrup and I went back onto my phone and to try and plan how I was going to get through this midterms week.

Quick info about midterms: everyone is dead, and everyone is stressed. Us college students literally live off of caffeine during midterms week. If you're lucky like me you are at school from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., so the caffeine is really needed.

Now soon after I saw the new jug come, my name was called. I grabbed my drink and walked like the walking zombie I was to my next class. I went in for my first drink I was so excited to have this sweet taste of vanilla, cinnamon and coffee...but what I got was the opposite. It literally tasted like a very burnt somewhat coffee and cinnamon edible without the marijuana affects, or for the non-edible people, a very bad tasting cookie that was missing all the sugar. I was not a happy camper one bit, but I was going to drink it anyway because I payed $4 for this coffee. I struggled drinking this during my writing class because it tasted terrible, but then out of no where I got this hit of sweet — I was drinking the sweet vanilla and the sweet cinnamon part of my drink minus the majority of the coffee since I was 3/4 done with the drink. I was seriously crying on the inside because I didn't get to enjoy this drink the way I needed.

Then the realization hit me: 1. They probably didn't add in the missing parts of the syrup once it got refilled since they suddenly got busy. 2. They did not stir that drink one bit because all the syrup was literally at the bottom of the cup. If they did these, then the problem wouldn't have happened.

This is not the first time this has happened to me having all the syrup at the bottom of the cup at a Starbucks. Its not like I am able to swish it around myself because it is full to the top and I don't want hot coffee poured or splashed on my hand. Also, most people are on-the-go while they are drinking their coffee or doing other things. I have only had this issue at Starbucks and never at any other place have I had this issue like Anthem Coffee.

So can Starbucks just agree to always mix their drinks? So that the zombie college kids during midterms have good coffee to keep them alive?

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