October is breast cancer awareness month. The grocery stores have displays with pink items you can buy, the newspaper runs special articles about breast cancer survivors, and the NFL players wear pink shoes and pink sweat towels – even the line of scrimmage is pink!
In the past, the pink was good. It reminded me that my mother had survived yet another year of cancer. I thought it was fun that for a month the professional football players sported their pink with pride.
Today, however, it is another reminder that my mother is gone.
After graduating from high school, I was accepted into Texas A&M. Part of this package was an opportunity to attend Fish Camp – an intense orientation four day program for new freshman where you meet fellow classmates, play lots of get-to-know-you games, and learn all the A&M culture. While in the middle of nowhere.
On the second or third day of camp, I got news from my parents that my grandfather had passed away. Even though you are not supposed to leave Fish Camp early, I was done. I went to my camp counselors, explained the situation, and signed some paperwork saying that I was leaving. I called my mom to tell her I had found a ride as far as College Station and asked if she would pick me up from there. In a very un-mom-like way, she said she couldn’t. She had a doctor’s appointment and couldn’t change it.
I left early the next morning with a lady that was making the drive back from wherever the campsite was back into College Station. I still think about her and how amazing it was that I was able to find a ride on such short notice. She worked in the administrative building and let me sit in her office while I waited for my mom’s friend to pick me up.
My cell phone rang. This was back in the day of not awesome reception and I remember walking outside to hear my mother better. She told me she had gone to the doctor (which I knew) and that she had cancer.
I don’t think I took a breath for a minute.
She had already known, of course. This was why she couldn’t pick me up – she had to go to the doctor and get her results back.
Cancer, cancer, cancer. The word kept echoing in my head.
When our friend arrived, I cried just seeing her. Mom had called her and told her the news so that I would have someone to talk to on the ride home. We picked up dinner (I started to learn that people give meals in times of need) and went home to see my mom.
It was a very difficult day.
For a long time, my mom was a survivor. She survived multiple types of chemotherapy, radiation, shots, drugs, hair loss, surgeries, and a lot of pain. We did Race for the Cure and she wore her pink I’m a Survivor t-shirt with pride. Even after she couldn’t walk it anymore, she continued to donate to Susan G. Komen and get the t-shirts for all of us.
And then she wasn’t. October will always be a month that reminds me to be aware of breast cancer. Unfortunately, I’m very aware of breast cancer. Every time I fill out paperwork for any doctor now, I have to write in that I’ve lost my mother to it.
I miss my mother every day. I think about her when I wake up, I think about her when I go to sleep. Soon it will be her birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the day she went into the hospital for the final time (also Selah’s birthday), and the day she died. As I’ve said before, I’m sure the first time we go through all of this will be the hardest.
All in all, I’m extremely proud of my mother. She went through so much and never, ever complained. Not once. She’s a champ.
Oh, Mom. I’ll try to look at the pink and smile. I’ll think about you and everything you did for me and I will smile. I miss you. I love you.