People ask me how is it that I have so much but still I am so grounded.....I'll tell you why. This story is the the core of my existence. I lost my mother to cancer prior to any of my children being born. She was my backbone. She was my identity. She was my everything. She was originally diagnosed at 34. She had a mastectomy and lived cancer free for 12 years. I didn't know at the time what a blessing every minute that I got with her was. She was just my mom. When the cancer returned in 1996 I was 16 years old. I watched her fight for her life when she was only 46. Years of body draining chemotherapy and radiation. The things she went through are straight from a horror movie. I remember the first time I saw the mask that they literally had to screw her to the table for radiation so they wouldn't risk her moving her head. This is when the matastasized breast cancer spread to her skull. She was not one for tight spaces, I can't even imagine how she got through those treatments. You want to talk about being a mentally tough athlete.....that means nothing to me. Not after knowing what she did just to take another day on this earth and watch her family grow. She survived until 52. Every single day fighting.
My mom survived her stem cell transplant. Not everybody does. At least not back when she did it. It was still considered somewhat new. This happened my senior year of high school. I was viewed by the outside world who didn't know my life as a beautiful, happy teenager. I had friends, a boyfriend, and at the time was on my way to breaking the school record for the most career goals ever by a woman soccer player in the school history. I had a full ride signed to Michigan State University. I looked like I had it all. Yet, nobody knew I stopped talking to 99% of those friends. I couldn't handle their conversations or what sounded like such trivial things. They were talking about how someone called someone this or that. I just couldn't listen to it. They had their health....as far as I was concerned they had it all. I wanted to scream at those girls to shut up but I didn't. They were not living my life. They just didn't know.
My mind warped from watching my my mother's veins be filled with poison that attempted to kill every bad cell in her while taking the good down as well. That is what a stem cell transplant is all about in a cancer patient. Nobody was allowed in that ward of the hospital unless full scrubbed and covered from head to tow in scrubs. The risk of any virus getting to one of these patients from an outside source is literally life and death serious. She survived the time in the hospital for the transplant. She followed every rule to a T when she got home except for one. I wasn't supposed to live at home for a few weeks because I was still in school and the risk of me bringing germs in the house was too high but after a week she told me she wanted me home. She couldn't live and recover without me there. Watching a love one suffer is one of life's most painful experiences. I got less then 5 years with her after that. I didn't know it at the time but they only expected to get maybe a year at best. Growing up when everything is so real takes it toll on your psyche. I have stories for that for another time.
Over a year later the cancer returned. Her lungs filled with fluid when the cancer spread to them. In an emergency they had to penetrate her torso while awake still to get the fluid out. She wrote letters to me how happy she was after weeks in the hospital to be able to use her own sink again. Can you imagine a world where that is the best part of your day. I will never forget.
She was a fighter in every way possible. My number one fan in life. When I lost her I lost everything.
It took me 10 years of therapy to find my own backbone and be able to dream again. So here I am at 37. Mentally strong and happy. I have found my peace with what I mom had to go through. Trust me it wasn't easy. Time alone did not heal these wounds. Lots of therapy did.
I see the world now as a place of infinite possibility where for years it was clouded by darkness. So at 37 I will chase down my dream to be a nationally known model. Maybe I'm too old, or not tall enough at 5'6" or not skinny enough at 125 pounds. But my heart holds my passion and my understanding of life and death. There is no measure to what my heart and passion can hold. If I live to be 100 years old I am not going to waste the next 63 years I have on this earth not trying to accomplish my goals. My biggest lesson that I can take from any of this is.... Tomorrow is not a guarantee for any of us. Live the life you want today and love those in it every moment of the way. You have nothing to prove to anyone but yourself. The only reflection you see before you go to bed each night is your own.