Why I'm Thankful For My Mom's Cancer

As little girls, moms play a major role in our lives. Birth given mom or not, these are the women who teach us everything, from using our manners, to listening when others speak. We grow up with them constantly reminding us to use our napkins, to stop saying “huh” and to always do the right thing. When we are little, we admire and love them without ever really knowing just how much or why. Unfortunately, there’s usually a time in our lives when we grow apart from our moms.

Even though we still love them, we often forget to remind them or to even treat them like it. Yet, they’re still there to cheer us on at games, help us through the unbearable stress of school and to listen to us cry when some undeserving guy leaves us in tears. The love between a mother and her child is one of the few unconditional loves in this world. Despite the fights and tragedies that may often threaten that love, the love still exists. Usually, as we get older, we begin to recognize all of the things these women did for us. Scheduling your own dentist appointments gives you a new appreciation for the woman who used to do it for you. But I fear this isn’t always the case. Sometimes we still forget to say “thank you” to our mom and remind her how influential she has been in our lives, until we’re faced with the possibility of not having a mom anymore.

Cancer isn’t usually something people are thankful for, but I dare to say that I am thankful for my mom’s cancer. Before my mom’s diagnosis, I had reached a point in life where I was pretending to be an adult even though I was still a kid. I was away at college, so I stopped coming home as much, I didn’t always call back when I saw a missed call on my phone, and I rarely went out of my way to make time for my parents unless it was for money or to go shopping. Of course, I never meant anything malicious by this behavior; it was just a pattern I had fallen into. Until one day, I woke up, and I didn’t know how many more nights I would go to sleep with two parents in this world. I still remember that day in immense detail. I remember what I was wearing when I got the call; I remember the pattern of the hospital furniture in the waiting room I sat in for hours waiting for her to get out of surgery.

Most of all, I remember my sister and I laying in the hospital bed next to hers as I spent the entire night praying God would just let her make it through this. That morning was just like any other. She went in to see her doctor, and the next thing we knew she was being rushed in for an emergency mastectomy. The cancer was extremely aggressive and had quickly spread through her lymph nodes. So after surgery came many months of chemo, which was followed by months of radiation. I watched her lose her hair, her fingernails, even a tooth. My family and I stood by helplessly as she vomited everything she put in her body for what seemed like an eternity.

So that night as I laid in the hospital bed next to hers and begged God not to take her from us yet; I also told Him that if she beat this, I would never take her for granted again. I would always remind her of how beautiful she is and that I couldn’t do life without her. I would stop blowing her off for my friends and getting annoyed with every little thing she did and said. I would take more time to listen to what she had to say and cherish the time we spent together. Now, that has been easier said than done. Four years later, and I still have to remind myself of what it felt like to be threatened with not having her anymore. I hate that it took something so extreme for me to learn to appreciate her the way she deserves to be, but I love her that much more because of it. I’m so blessed to still have her here to teach me how to file my taxes, to explain 1,000 times how credit works and all of the many things she is still teaching me.

But it also breaks my heart for all of the people who lose a loved one and never get the chance to say “I love you” one last time. Don’t let something like cancer threaten someone’s life for you to remember how important that person is to you. Say “thank you,” say “I’m sorry,” say “I love you.” Take a moment to stop focusing on your own life and make time for her. She is the glue that holds your family together and your best friend since day one. She has helped mold you into the person you are today, so take the time to remind her of all the things she needs and deserves to hear.

I love you, Mom.

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