This I Believe

Stephanie - Wylie, Texas
Entered on April 23, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: family

This I Believe

When you are feeling stressed out or going through some difficult times, who do you turn to for help? Although turning to your best friend or your counselor might prove helpful, over the years I discovered that the most satisfying counsel comes from family. When your life spins out of control, I believe in the power of family.

I am the fourth child out of nine children in my family. Living in a big family, I’ve always had this belief, but it was greatly tested by the most traumatic family experience I have ever been through.

My mom was pregnant with her ninth child, Samantha, when the doctors discovered that something was wrong. They performed some routine tests to find out what the problem was, and when the results came back, time seemed to stop. I could almost hear my heart beat slowing down. My mom had lung cancer. The doctors told her she had six months to live. That day, my family began the toughest journey we would ever take together: the fight against the inevitable.

The chemotherapy treatment could not begin with my mother until she gave birth to Samantha, who on September 18th, 1999, was born as healthy as any other child, a relief to the concerned doctors as well as our family. Soon after, the chemo began. For the next nine months, neither of my parents worked, and our family lived off of the world’s generosity. The story of our family’s trial was put into the Dallas Morning News and later spread to newspapers all around the world. Every day, we received letters and checks from all over the globe. Those checks, sometimes as huge as 3000 dollars, were enough to pay for everything we needed in those months. The most important event that occurred then however, was the strengthening of my family, and of my belief. In those months of chemotherapy, our family had the power to grow closer than ever before. We had faith that our mom would get better; and she did.

About four months after it was diagnosed, the cancer was said to be in remission. We were once again put into the newspapers and showered with money by faraway strangers. Unfortunately, we had celebrated too soon. Only two short months later, the cancer had returned, and this time with a vengeance. On July 22nd of 2000, my family watched my mom’s heart monitor in the Intensive Care Unit gradually drop lower and lower until, after one year of battling this disease, my mom’s body finally gave up.

During the time after her death, I realized just how much power a family truly has. Without them, I would have never made it through that hard time. Even though each member of my family was hurting, we were each somehow comforted by knowing that we were not alone in our pain, that someone else understood how we felt. A comfort achieved solely through the power of family.