One of my favorite songs from my childhood is “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross. There is a line in the song that my mother used to shout at the top of her lungs whenever the song would come on the radio: “If you need me call me, no matter where you are, no matter how far. Just call my name, I’ll be there in a hurry, you don’t have to worry.” She would sing those words and I knew she meant them too. Day or night, if my sisters and I ever needed her, she would be there.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer the first time, I put those song lyrics to the test. It was right after my second infusion. I knew I was going to lose my hair. It was at the point where clumps were falling out everywhere. I knew it was just a matter of days before all of it was gone. I was scared to shower because I was worried my hair would clog my drain and I would have to clean it out. Yeah, I said it! I was more worried about clogging my drain than the mental strain of losing my hair! If you are a clean freak, you would understand.
Anyway, it must have been around 8 in the morning. I called my mother and demanded she come over immediately because I needed to go to the hair salon and cut my hair. Without fail, my mother rushed right over and took me to the hair salon where I got the goofiest haircut that only lasted two days until I worked up the nerve to shave it all completely.
My mom, in all senses of the word, is my hero. She isn’t a CEO or big shot lawyer at some firm in the city. She isn’t a gourmet chef that belongs on the Food Network, although her food is quite amazing. She is, however, a breast cancer survivor. And, not only has she battled the disease and won, she has walked with me, hand-in-hand, helping me through my journey.
My mom and I have always been close, but joining the cancer club made us even closer. She went through all the ebbs and flows, the highs and the lows right along side me. I would call and she would drop everything to come be by my side with whatever I needed. I appreciated the long pause she took before entering my house. The long pause it took for her to collect her thoughts and emotions so that she could be strong for me. I appreciated all the sleepless nights she endured just so I could get one good night’s sleep. I appreciated her stoicism as I fell into her arms and cried “why me”? I appreciated her candidness whenever she would say “this really sucks”. I appreciated her empathy as she laid with me in bed and rubbed my back to ease my pain.
When battling cancer, it is so important that you have a wonderful team in your corner to rally and support you. No one can possibly do this alone and no one is expected to. My mom was my rock throughout my cancer treatment. She has helped me, without wavering, to become who I am right now: an advocate, an educator, a fighter. Although I get bogged down with medical bills, prices of medication, and doctor co-pays, the power of being able to reach out to my mother whenever I need…. is absolutely priceless.