As a seventeen year old girl approaching her final year of high school, I didn't think my life would come to a screeching halt. I was going about my grade twelve year as any other high school girl does. I was participating in the grad committee, which helped plan events for our grad class, I was playing my final year of high school volleyball, I was editing the yearbook with one of my friends, and I was enjoying the final moments as they came, while making sure that I soaked up every last bit of the simple life. Until December 6th 2010 rolled around.
I was busy helping with the Grad Christmas Banquet, when I returned home from school only to see my mother on the couch sobbing with a box of tissues. I will never forget that moment. I knew that my mom was getting some test results that day, but I didn't anticipate anything bad to come of it. "I have breast cancer." Four words I didn't want to hear. I sat next to her and hugged her. I didn't even know what to say. How does a seventeen year old respond to this? Certainly I didn't have the answers. Suddenly, life became a blur. I was simply going through the motions. Days at school were tough, because I didn't know anyone else going through similar situations at the time. I felt very alone. My mom had surgery on Christmas Eve. It was a different Christmas that year. We celebrated early to make it feel as normal as we could. But it was very far from normal. A few weeks later, we received more news that the surgery wasn't as successful as the doctors would have liked. So, that meant another surgery for my mom. Months of recovery, chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatments followed. I almost felt too immature to handle the situation. I didn't feel comfortable enough to attend chemo treatments with my mom, something I regret to this day. During this time, my sister got married and moved out, which meant I was the only child left at home. It was hard to see my mom at her lowest of lows. It was only my dad and myself to be there for her during those truly hard moments. She powered through it all, and was thankfully well enough to attend my graduation with her fashionable wig on. She was a trooper!
Some time passed, and it seemed as though things were starting to get back to normal. My mom was feeling better and returned back to work. I was attending Simon Fraser University on a volleyball scholarship. I made it through the first two years of classes and volleyball, and then felt a calling to a different profession - graphic design. I ended up leaving SFU and my team, and shortly after received an acceptance letter into the Graphic Design Associate Certificate Program at British Columbia Institute of Technology. Life was good.
Well... life was good until May 2012, when my mom was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
Once again, I didn't have the answers. She had a radical surgery to remove her kidney that July. I thought that I had a bit more maturity at this stage in my life, so I was able to do a better job of handling things. I was more prepared to be there for my mom and be at the hospital for her and help with her recovery at home. And to no surprise, she powered through the long recovery. Thankfully she didn't have to go through any further treatments after the surgery. In a matter of months, she was headed back to work.
That fall, I was starting my new program at BCIT, and life was back on track again. I was entering my final semester when we discovered that my mom was diagnosed with bladder cancer. At this point, I didn't even know what to think. How is it possible for one person to go through so much, and in such a small amount of time? In April 2014, she had an intense surgery to remove her bladder and have a full hysterectomy. This was the longest surgery she has had, and the longest recovery - a week in the hospital, followed by weeks of recovery at home.
This was three cancers in three and a half years. Unheard of for a healthy woman her age.
My mom went back to work this November and has been adjusting to her new way of life. She has been trying to get back to some normal in her life. It has been since her return to work, that my mom and I collaborated on the prints in my shop today. The Journey Collection of prints in my shop is part of the donation to The Canadian Cancer Society. For each print that is purchased, partial proceeds will be donated to the foundation. Our family has participated in a couple of the Relay for Life events in Langley to raise money for the cause. It is very near and dear to my heart. I hope that these funds will help find a cure and even better treatments for this awful disease that affects way too many people.
My mom has recently been going for some tests to check up on her health. It looks as though a nodule on her lung has grown in the past five months, and the doctors want to perform surgery on her again to remove a wedge of her lung - without knowing if it is cancer or not. They are not taking any chances with her case, and for that I am thankful. The doctors have been so helpful and you can tell the impact my mom has had on them. She is constantly making light of her situation and joking around with the doctors. It makes them want to fight for her even harder. So, my mom will be having surgery at the end of April or the beginning of May. It's hard to imagine yet another surgery for her. However, I am praying that the doctors know what they are doing and will remove all that they need to.
I have to say, that my mom and my entire family would not be standing where we are today if it wasn't for our faith. My relationship with God has allowed me to rely on Him when I have absolutely no strength. There is comfort in knowing that God has a bigger plan than we do, and He will take care of us.
Please keep my mom and my family in your thoughts and prayers this coming month. We do not know what the future holds, but we are firm in believing that God will take care of her and heal her. Cancer is no match for her. It has tried, but my mom has fought harder, and she will continue to fight harder. God will give her the strength and courage through this process, just as He has all of the other times.
If you want to hear more about the journey from my mom's perspective, please visit her blog here.
I felt it was important to share with all of you a little bit more about my story and how I ended up here. These past four years have been character building for me. My mom has encouraged and supported me the whole way through, and I am happy to have launched my first shop items with her in mind. Now you know the full story behind why I am donating to The Canadian Cancer Society, and how my mom has impacted my life so greatly with her immense strength and courage.