The Year that Changed Everything…
It was Christmas Eve 2013. I was just 15 years old. My family and I were at my grandma’s house for Christmas just like every year, opening presents, eating sugar cookies, and watching cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies. We had to head back home that day after presents and Christmas dinner with the family. Before we left my grandma asked my mom what that lump was on her neck. “What is that, Terri?” she asked, pointing to my mom’s neck.
“What?” my mom asked confused. She put her hand up to her throat and felt a lump. “That’s weird… I’ve never noticed that.”
“You should probably get that checked out. It could be a swollen lymph node,” my Grandma said matter-of-factly.
I never thought too much about the lump on my mom’s neck. I knew it couldn’t be anything serious because nothing serious could happen to my family. It wasn’t until later that I realized how wrong I was…
In the early days of January, my mom went to the doctor for tests and scans of her neck. It felt like weeks before we finally got the news that changed everything. Cancer. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer that infects the lymph nodes all over your body.
My stomach dropped. I barely remember my parents actually telling me that it was cancer. The whole thing was such a blur. My mom has cancer, I thought to myself in disbelief. She started chemotherapy almost immediately after getting diagnosed. It all happened so fast, but in a way, it felt like time was agonizingly slow.
I had a lot of resentment in the beginning of this never-ending journey, mostly towards God. My family had always gone to church, always been Christians, and I was angry with God for letting this happen to my mom. This is what we get for following you? I asked Him. I hated Him for a long time because he gave my mom cancer.
I felt like I was in a bad dream. A dream I could not wake my self up from no matter how hard I tried. At school I felt like everyone’s eyes were on me - my teachers, my friends. It’s like everyone was waiting for me to have a nervous breakdown. I acted out in school and almost twice a week or more I was getting sent to the principal’s office for talking in class and being disrespectful. I just didn’t care anymore. I didn’t care about school, my grades, how I treated others… I was so full of resentment and sadness.
My mom was amazing through it all. She had chemo all the time, but still went to work and put on a smile everyday no matter how tired and sick she was feeling. That’s just the kind of person my mom is. She never made us feel scared, and she never resented God. Seeing her become closer to God, when he allowed her to have cancer, amazed me. My dad was just the same. He stepped up and took care of my mom and us kids, and that strengthened our relationships with him. Looking at how they dealt with it made me realize I was reacting in all the wrong ways. I saw that I needed to be there for my parents and siblings and be an encourager rather than a discourager.
Though I felt a change needed to happen, it took me a long time to even pick up my Bible again. Once I finally did, I found peace. My anger with God began to fade and my relationship with him and my parents grew stronger because of the cancer.
In a way, I’m thankful for the cancer because it brought something other than just pain and sickness. It brought me a new understanding of love and life. It taught me to cherish every moment I have on this earth and with the people in my life. It brought me closer to my parents and God and it strengthened those relationships. Cancer showed me who my true friends were that would stand by me through the tears and through the happiness.
Life always brings things we don’t expect. I never thought my family would be troubled with something as awful as cancer, but here we are. Three years later and still working through it. My mom truly is my hero and I’m grateful to have shared our story.