In 2009 I was going through a major time of growth in my life so far. I was trying to find myself with religion, career, guys, friends, school, etc. but there was this feeling that I couldn't shake. I would get anxiety attacks when I would think "If my mom were ever to die, I would probably lose my mind." And for almost a year before I found out that my mom was diagnosed with Breast Cancer I would have this thought more than I ever would have imagined. It used to bother me but I really didn't talk to a lot of people in my family at the time, the "friends" I hard were the least concerned, and the boy friend I had at the time could care less. So I kept this thought and tears to myself, expressed only in the dark of night while wrapped in blankets so no one could see my cry.
In October or November of that year my mom told us that she had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer a couple months before. She tried really hard not to tell anyone in our family.
My mom is the eldest girl out of 8 brothers and sisters. And over the years I've come to realize that she's a caretaker at heart. She helped my grandmother raise her siblings and now she helps her siblings raise their children. So in a way I understood where she was coming from when she said "I didn't want to ruin anyone's holidays. Thanksgiving is coming up, Christmas and New Years. I was going to wait until after New Year's to tell everyone because I didn't want this to happen."
The "this" my mom was talking about was the constant calls and e-mails of people, family, friends, co-workers, etc. that would call my mom crying and sad over what she was about to go through. I watched my mother work from home (by forceful choice lol) while going through chemo and attempt to live life like she did before she was diagnosed. And she did for a while. But it just seemed like satan was throwing everything he had at her at one time. And now all I can think about is... She is my Job.
Before my mom was diagnosed with Breast Cancer she had to have surgery on her neck because of her job two of her vertabre's had been fused together by a growth of bone. Seeing her come out of that surgery almost broke me in two. I was so angry when I saw her so drugged up she didn't even notice me. Then came the Breast Cancer, the shaved head, and the chemo. Although I may have not been around for every minute, my mother was strong. I never saw or heard her complain about what was happening to her, never heard or saw her cry, say she was going to give up, questioned why God allowed this to happen to her.. And yet I was so angry, so hurt, so ashamed.
I was hurt because all I could think of was losing her. Then I remember what I put her through when I got arrested, when I wouldn't come home, when I wouldn't call, when I would some home smelling like cigarettes and her tongue would break out in sores. How horrible of a daughter am I? I used to think. But now I know that the Lord uses those around us to bring us closer to Him. And when I saw everything my mother was going through I was determined to be a better daughter to her, to be a better friend to everyone, to be a better person to everyone I meet... Just like my mom.
My aunt, Margie, was diagnosed with Breast Cancer when she was about 30 years old I believe. And my mother's diagnosis came after. Due to the amount of Breast Cancer, cysts, and PCOS that runs on my mom's side she was determined to get tested for the BCRA genes. But when my mom went to Kaiser they told her that my aunt had to be the one to get tested. For whatever reason she chose, my aunt refused to get tested. No matter how much my family pushed and asked and talked... she refused. When my mother took this information to Kaiser they still denied her. So my mom went to USC and got tested... POSITIVE.
Who would have thought?! I know I never did. So me, my sister, my aunt Nani and Karla, and my mom all went to get tested when Kaiser saw the results from USC. We all sat through the genetic counseling and all got tested together. The wait was the hardest part. My aunt Nani has no children. My aunt Karla has one daughter. And my sister and I don't have any children yet. It was interesting to learn so much about these 4 women in my life from this situation. The results were.. Karla = Positive, Nani = Positive, Sammy (sister) = Negative, Me = Negative. So since those who tested positive are at higher risk of ovarian cancer there have been quite a few surgeries.
My mom is still getting reconstructive surgery, her next appointment is the day after my birthday, November 13th. And I can say in all honesty and realness that I have never seen or met anyone as strong as my mom. During all this time she's bought a house and done most of the work to fix it up, helped fix up my sister's new house, babysat, ran errands.. It was like nothing was wrong with her.
Then about a year ago I had the opportunity to get a free tattoo in exchange for my makeup services and I decided to get a pink Breast Cancer ribbon that looks like a woman running. I knew my mom would hate it because she hates tattoos in general but a part of me knew that she would grow to love it because she would see that I'm proud to be her's and proud to have her struggle advertised on my body. When I showed her the tattoo it was still healing and all she said was "It looks horrible!" and I laughed, smiled and said "You will grow to love it.... TRUST me" Then I thought about getting some kind of words added for her and that is where I came up with the slogan "Not even GENEs can stop us!". BECAUSE THEY CAN'T!