My mom has taken care of everything and solved every problem for as long as I can remember. Our entire family has leaned on her for guidance and strength. She always offered support, even when it wasn't wanted, and she never once asked for help in return. My mom has always been the tough one—the one that will always stand on her own two feet.
This past fall I noticed something was off, she was going to the doctors too often and was suddenly acting oddly sentimental. Anyone who knows my mother knows that the doctor is her least favorite place to go, and the only thing that really makes her cry is a good Disney movie. When I would ask her what was going on, she would immediately change the subject. Little did I know, even in that moment, she was being the glue.
After Christmas had come and gone she came over to my house and sat me down. She informed me that she was diagnosed with Stage Three Breast Cancer in early October. She ran her fingers through her hair, but this gentle motion pulled chunks of her hair out of her head. I was angry. I was scared. I didn’t know what to do. Why hadn't she told anyone? Why hadn’t she asked for help?
She, once again, was being the strong one of the family. She wanted to see us enjoy the holiday without worrying about her, and she didn’t want to tell us until she had a plan. She had undergone biposies, had a port put in her chest, and had started chemotherapy. She kept our whole family, a nuclear family of ten, in the dark for three months. All to keep us from worrying about her.
Fast forward to now— she only has one chemo treatment left, will begin surgeries in late April, and then begin to undergo radiation. She is on medical leave from her job as a middle school teacher in Detroit, so she is home by herself every day. For those of you that know my mom, being bored is the one thing that this woman is not good at.
She has medical bills pilling up and house repairs that need to be done. Come June, when school gets out, she will no longer have a paycheck. She will still be classified as being on medical leave, so that takes teaching summer school and participating in after school tutoring off the table for her.
My mother— who has been the glue for myself, my sister, her parents, my sons, my foster children, her foster daughter, and the rest of my family— still will not ask for help.
I will now try to step up and fill her shoes. I will do what I can do be the glue of my family and hold it all together. However, I know that I cannot do it alone.
Please help me support her and give her one less thing to worry about.
- Judith Westra
- Michelle Landin
- Mike Boczkowski
- Diana Cook
- Brienne Stiteler
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