Teen Post by Alyssa Murphy
On December 13, 2013 Mom nonchalantly told me that she found another lump in her breast. Her tone was so relaxed that it hardly worried me. Mom continued to tell me that she wanted to tell me right upfront order to keep me included unlike what happened in February. I wasn’t really sure how I felt about receiving this news again, but my strongest feeling was that everything would be okay just like before: the lump would be drained, it would test negative for cancer, and life would go on.
I was getting my horse ready around 3pm when I got a text from mom saying “Hi, Dad came home to take me to a doctor’s appointment. Don’t worry if you get home and we aren’t there. I should be done around 4:00pm.” I was suddenly confused because normally I would know about any doctor’s appointments or other appointments but today I was not aware of anything. I replied in panic “Is everything ok?” Mom didn’t reply. I texted Dad, “Is everything ok with Mom?” No reply.
Once I was done at the barn I drove home anxious to understand why Mom needed to see the doctor so urgently. I got home, cleaned up and began doing my homework. 4:00 arrived and no one was home, nor had anyone texted me. 5:00 came around and still no one was home, and still no communication.
Now I was worried that my parents had gotten in an accident or something. I texted Mom at 5:36, “WHAT IS GOING ON.” No reply.
Finally our car came down the driveway and my parents came inside. Neither of them acted like anything was wrong but I was still confused. I didn’t want to rattle anyone so I just continued to watch TV. Dad sat down on our living room chair and Mom sat next to me on the couch. The energy in the room was awkward and uncomfortable as I felt both of them look at me. Obviously something was wrong when Dad said he wanted to talk.
In a type of lackluster, serious tone he began “So, do you remember a couple weeks ago? When Mom found another lump in her breast?” I slowly nodded up and down while he continued, “Well the appointment we were at was a follow up to her mammogram. The doctor called while we were out of town and wanted to see us immediately because he found something and wanted to do an ultrasound to confirm. And Alyssa… Mom-Mom’s lump is malignant- it’s cancerous.”
My heart dropped to my feet and I could not look at anyone. A lump developed in my throat as if I would cry and I stared blankly at the wall. I didn’t know what to say, not only to Mom and Dad but to myself.
Dad was talking but I was not paying attention because my brain was racing. When we began to talk about a treatment plan I started to cry. A treatment plan… for cancer…. for MY Mom?
I thought I was in shock because my heart felt like it was out of beat. I had never had such a feeling. Mom was sitting next to me with cancer inside her body, she had cancer. Dad assured me that Mom was not going anywhere; she would fight this and she would win.
Mom and I check in periodically with each other to see how one another is feeling about what’s going on or see if one of us needs a hug. She is rarely down but it seems to help when I can encourage her to keep going.
I have learned so much throughout Mom’s care and I will have this information and value it for my whole life. I have learned a lot about positive energy and optimism. I also try and help her keep moving on the days she is tired, we go shopping or go to the gym or for a walk.
I like feeling like I can actually help; I feel like I can actually control some aspect of this whole process.
My mom will live with the effects of this for the rest of her life but that doesn’t mean she can’t be happy.I want to make it a life goal to educate and alert women of the dangers of not getting yearly check-ups and mammograms. I also want to encourage vigilance and awareness of women and their bodies; if you think you are having tenderness or feel an abnormality GET IT CHECKED.
I don’t want women to be constantly scared, but be smart. Mom was only trying on a shirt when she felt something. It was so small that her doctors were surprised she caught it; they praised her for being smart and knowing her body enough to know something was wrong.
Today my mom is cancer free and I know she will not allow breast cancer to own her life at any point; she is strong, she is beautiful and she is a survivor.
1. Have you or your family navigated a significant health-related crisis?
2. How did you get through?
3. What kind of support was particularly helpful?