Monday Moms

Monday Moms: I will not let my mother’s battle with breast cancer be in vain
By Marsha Marshall

I am a mom and my life has been deeply impacted by breast cancer.

May 15, 2005 is a day I will never forget. It is the day that changed my entire life; the day I heard my mother say, “I have breast cancer”. I vividly remember the telephone call from my mother that sent shock waves through my body. I remember crying because of what sounded like a death sentence. And even more, I remember feeling completely helpless. At the time, I was an unemployed 20 year old college student who was 200 miles away from home. I had no idea what to expect and what the end result would be. However, I knew that my mother was willing to fight her battle with breast cancer and I was willing to support her in any way that I could.

During that summer, I worked on research during the weekdays and traveled home every Friday to take my mother to her chemo sessions and spend the weekend with her. Each week that I came home, I saw the disease eat away at her physical being. First, was the hair loss, then the skin discoloration, and the 60 pound weight loss. With all of the physical changes that my mother endured, I never once heard her complain. However, I knew it was taking a toll on her mentally and emotionally. What I didn’t know was the severity of the cancer. My mother endured months of chemotherapy and then finally was told she no longer needed it. Little did I know that this was not necessarily great news.

Only a week after Thanksgiving, I received a phone call from my mother’s primary care doctor as I was leaving a Biomechanics class. Once again, shock waves were sent through my body when the doctor urged me to come home immediately. At that moment, I knew my mother’s health made a turn for the worse. It turned out that my mother was originally diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. I guess she somehow forgot to tell me that part or she was trying to be very optimistic. Either way, she wasn’t given much of a chance to survive the aggressive cancer.  On December 5th, 2005 (less than six months after the diagnosis), my mother lost her battle to breast cancer at 53 years of age.

So there I was, 21 years old before Christmas without the one and only parent I ever knew. My world had been turned upside down and I had so many emotions and questions. Nearly eight years later, I am now a mother still dealing with some of those same emotions and questions. I realize that I may never know why my mother didn’t tell me her chances of survival, or why her life was ended because of the horrible disease. However, I have chosen to not be a victim of my mother’s loss to breast cancer, but to be an advocate and educate others about breast health and breast cancer. I choose to live a healthy lifestyle and be in tune with my body. I choose to seek answers until this ugly disease no longer affects the lives of mothers, children, and families. For anyone who may read this, my hope is that you also choose to have open conversations with your families, especially if you have children, about your health.

I am a mom and I choose to not let my mother’s battle with breast cancer be in vain.