At first, things didn't seem any different.
When I say that, I mean that a diagnosis didn't really change the family dynamics very much, at least not in the first few weeks. We found out about my mom, and I was so young that I immediately assumed the worst. I thought that by the next day, she was going to be bedridden forever. That's why I was surprised when I woke up the next morning and found her cooking breakfast for me, standing in her pajamas with the news on TV. Everything appeared normal, just how it was 24 hours earlier when we hadn't known.
As a matter of fact, I got so used to this illusion of normalcy that her illness didn't really seem like a real issue that would eventually implode. Part of that was definitely due to my immaturity and inability to think about the long term future. Another part of that was how my mom was still going to work, picking me up from school, and taking me shopping. Despite a clear diagnosis, it didn't feel like anything would actually change until one night in particular.
I was getting ready to go to bed after another regular, average day; I'd finished my homework, brushed my teeth, and was about to fall asleep when I heard her call my name from down the hall.
Confused, I walked into her room, where she was sitting sprawled out on her bed. At this point in time, she had begun to lose her hair from chemotherapy, but she had only lost a little bit of it. When she called me into her room, I saw that she had an electric razor in her hand. Before I knew what was happening, she was asking me if I would shave her head for her.
She wasn't crying. She didn't look scared. She looked like she had accepted it, even the fact that she was going to lose all her hair eventually. She just wanted to get that part over with. On the other hand, I had been so oblivious that I didn't even know there was anything to accept in the first place.
That's why all I can say is that things like that don't happen overnight. When I saw that nothing had changed in 24 hours, my 14-year old self jumped to the conclusion that nothing would change ever. Maybe it's because I was young and didn't know any better, but I've gained a lot more perspective in the past couple years about what cancer really is like. It might not immediately become obvious, but that doesn't mean it never will. And even if it isn't obvious, it doesn't mean that your friend or family member isn't suffering at all.
My mom currently rocks her wig like a model, but a few years ago, I didn't even know a wig was going to happen. Now I know that anything can happen, and being prepared is always better than being blind.