I was sixteen years old when we found out that my mother had Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I am an only child and to hear this about my best friend, my mom, was devastating. Plus, to look at her she looked so normal and healthy, it was hard to imagine that she could have a disease that would eventually take her life. My mom lived for almost seventeen years with the disease, through all her treatments she taught me how to find inner strength and that life was precious to enjoy it.
As a junior in high school, my mom went in for some exploratory surgery because of a small knot on her leg when the doctors found cancer. I remember going to get a drink in the cafeteria and coming back with the doctor and my dad talking inside a closed room with a small window. Through the window, I could tell by the look on my dad's face that it was not the outcome we had expected. Later in recovery, the doctor told my mom what he had found and they would meet in his office later in the week to discuss the treatment possibilities. I was with her when she was told of the cancer and the one thing I remember most is that she kept a smile on her face and said "I can fight this".
Fighting is exactly what she did, she continued to work until retirement and for the most part tried to keep life as normal as possible for me and my dad. Sometimes, it was very strange to think of her being sick, because she knew how to hide it so well. Every now and then, I could get a peak of her being tired or just not being able to keep up the pace she normally did. She started her treatments and eventually went into remission which lasted for about five years. During the remission times, she enjoyed life as much as possible. She went the places she always wanted to go and taught me to take the time and just notice the small things around you that can be taken for granted. She noticed even the simple things that I had seemed to forget, such as smelling the honeysuckles in the backyard.
After several years in remission, the cancer returned several more times and each time it returned it was stronger and worse than the time before. During this time, she continued life as normal as possible with working and enjoying her grandchildren. There were days that she would go take a treatment in the morning and come home to do all her chores and cook dinner. I ask her how she did this and she said "staying busy keeps me alive". I learned from my mom that I can accomplish anything by finding strength for within. At times during the day, when I am tired and do not want to take the extra time to do something for my family. I think of my mom and even in her sickest times she would always pick herself up and do what needed to be done. So, I decided if she can do it in those conditions then surely I can do it since I am healthy.
The last time the cancer returned there were no other options of treatment other than a stem cell transplant. In hoping to extend her life, she had the transplant...