This I Believe

Meghan - Jamesville, New York
Entered on September 5, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, hope, illness

My mother taught me a lot of life lessons in my past 21 years but, the one lesson that she best exemplified is that you always have to be optimistic about life and its challenges. No matter what she has gone through (and she has gone through a lot) she has always had a positive outlook. I believe you should look at the glass as always half full.

In the fall of 2001 when the country was dealing with the tragedy of 9/11, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. When she told me at the end of September, she already knew that she was going to have surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, the works. Through it all I have never seen someone who dealt with cancer so positively. Through each stage of treatment she saw the positives and there was never a doubt in her mind that she would be fine.

By Thanksgiving the chemo had started to affect my mother’s hair. When I would have broken down crying if all of my hair was falling out, my mother saw it as a cool trick and the entertainment at the dinner table. “Look at this!” she would exclaim as she pulled out a chunk of hair from the nape of her neck. Everyone had to laugh at the fact that she thought this was cool. Soon after she was completely bald and although she had a wig she rarely wore it and mostly just wore her hat. She even thought she got better seating at restaurants because people knew she had cancer.

After going through chemo my mother started radiation in the spring. Even this had its positives. She laughed at the fact that she was getting tattoos. Even thought they were just small black dots it was something she had never done.

My mom fully recovered only to be diagnosed again three years later. This time it was the other breast. She didn’t bat an eye.

She decided to have a bilateral mastectomy with reconstructive surgery. It was weird to hear your mother brag that at 55 she was going to get her first boob job for the smaller cup size she always wanted. Although she did not have to have chemo or radiation this time she had a lot more surgeries. Still, she never doubted that she would breeze though it.

I have learned so much from her example and every challenge has been put into perspective for me. I don’t know if I will always have the smile on my face that my mom did but I try to be like her when things get tough.

My mom is doing fine now and she hopes never to deal with cancer again but I know she would be fine if she did. To her the glass is always half full so drink up.