Hi. I’m Eve. I’m almost 15, I love volleyball and Grey’s Anatomy, and I’m the daughter of a four-time cancer survivor. Yes, you heard that right. Four separate cancers; eight years; one person. Some families play football, some families go to Harvard, but what do we do? We beat cancer.
I don’t remember much about my mom’s first 2 cancers since they all happened before I was 5 years old. I remember hearing my mom screaming in pain from a surgical complication as she was carried out by a stretcher in the middle of the night while my neighbors held me and my brother close. That fear is something that I will live with for the rest of my life, something I would not wish upon my worst enemy.
But for cancer #4, I was almost 12. Sixth grade is awkward for everyone. You’re figuring out your friend group before middle school and starting puberty, but I was dealing with all of that and the knowledge that my mom had something that could potentially take her life. At the time, I didn’t totally understand that she had a relatively low-risk-of-killing-you stage of breast cancer, which meant I was full of questions (for example, ‘What is radiation?’ was pretty high on that list).
It was about a week before my birthday when we got the news. In the beginning, the radiation treatment wasn’t terrible. She kept working, and making dinner, and leading my girl scout troop meetings. But as it progressed, it started to get worse and worse. Radiation was taxing on her body. It took away little pieces of her every time she went in. The burn, the drain, and the inability to find a comfortable position while trying to relax were just a few of the things that cancer stole from her. But it never took away her drive to fight.
If cancer taught me anything about my mom, it’s that she’s kind of a badass. She’s so strong and brave that I didn’t ever truly realize what she was going through. Only now after reflecting can I say that, in short, cancer sucks. If Grey’s Anatomy taught me anything, it’s that doctors hate having to give bad news. But what’s ten times worse is receiving that news. The news that your mother, the woman who carried you in her stomach for nine months, pushed you out (another thing to add to the badass repertoire), and then raised you, could die from something that she wanted nothing to do with.
So, now I hug my mom a little tighter and I hold my breath and cross my fingers when she goes to the doctor. If I could say anything to people who are going through this, it would be: get her that glass of wine and just be with her when she needs it. I wish all of you the best and know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Walk towards it and never let up. Fight on.