The Baker Orange

Freshman reflects on her mother’s battle with breast cancer

Story by Jessica Lane

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Twelve years ago, I found out that my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was 6 years old at the time and didn’t really understand what was happening.

My dad kept reminding me, “Mommy’s sick, sweetie, and she won’t be home for a couple of days.”

I started to get nervous that mom was never going to come home — that she was stuck in the hospital. When we were finally able to visit my mom, I didn’t recognize her. She was pale and weak, not the strong mother that I was used to seeing every day.

It was difficult going to school, knowing that my mom was not going to be home when I was done. Luckily, my mom had communicated with my teacher, Ms. Busy, and she helped me stay on track.

On July 5, 2001, my mom was diagnosed. She had to undergo four rounds of chemotherapy and four weeks of radiation.

“They caught it early,” my Grandma Ginnie said.

I didn’t understand what she meant. My mom was gone and always sick. Looking back, she was one of the lucky ones. It helped that my grandma was also diagnosed with breast cancer and knew what to look for in a self-examination. If it wasn’t for my grandma, I don’t know what would have happened to my mom.

Once my mom finally came home from the hospital, she was different. She was exhausted and bald.

“I wore wigs, hats, and scarves a lot because I knew you didn’t like seeing me bald,” my mom said.

She was right — I wasn’t scared. It was just another reminder that my mom wasn’t feeling good, and I didn’t know the outcome of her sickness.

During chemotherapy and the surgeries my mom had to undergo, paying the bills was not as large of an issue as it could have been. The insurance covered all of the payments but not the permanent scar that was left on my mom’s chest.

Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t cover everyone’s treatments. Organizations like the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Susan G. Komen and the American Cancer Society help those who can’t afford the expenses that come with cancer.

My family has participated in cancer walks, attended athletics events that support Susan G. Komen and donate when we can.

To this day my mom is still in remission because you are never actually cured of cancer. By the end of 2001 she was done with treatments. I am happy to say that my mom is healthy and well but every day is still a battle.

“I’m fine now but at first I was scared,” my mom said.

My family gets nervous when she goes to her yearly check ups, but each time she has returned home cancer free.