The word "cancer" is evocative of all kinds of emotions. When your mother tells you, "I have cancer," it is evocative of utter despair and panic, especially at 16. I can only imagine how heavy it is to be the person carrying the tumor and the burden of the news. Her tumor floated seemingly innocuous on the surface of the skin, plain for the eye to see but invisible to mammograms. Small and hard like a frozen pea, it wreaked havoc in her body, with surgeries, radiation and heavy drugs called for to evict every last out-of-control cell. It could've been enough to make anyone wilt but my strong mama walked the road beautifully, fully committed to the fight and continuing to live.
Tonight, 11 years later, my brother and I flanked her at a cancer survivors' mass at our church. It is with overwhelming gratitude that I thank her for not giving up, and God for keeping her with us for 11 years past what could've been a death sentence. The story doesn't end this way for so many families- we are blessed that it has for us.
If your mom is still in the world, call her today and tell her that you love her.