Living With the Ribbon


Meredith Mears, Reporter

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and this year it applies to my family more than ever.

Growing up, I always thought my family was untouchable, nothing bad could happen to us including cancer. I was wrong; in the spring of 2019 my mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer, meaning the cancer is traveling or has traveled in more than one place in the body. I was devastated. Breast Cancer doesn’t run in my family, unlike so many other families. It was a total shock to my family as it showed up out of the blue.

I remember when my mom came home to tell me she had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I cried because it was unexpected and I just couldn’t imagine my mom getting that sick.  It was hard because it was over spring break and everyone else was enjoying their time off, while my family had to learn how to adapt to this diagnosis. In the leading weeks we kept getting worse news on my mom’s cancer. We found out the cancer was anywhere from her neck to her ankles.

It was time to start treating it. My mom started going to HIMG oncology and found out that she could take her chemo from home by a pill. This was a great option for her. She was able to take chemo from the comfort of her home. She also has to take a bone strengthening shot each month as well to help restore the bones that cancer has weakened. Her scans have to be taken frequently so we can see the progression of her cancer. When my mom started taking chemo I was afraid that she was going to lose her hair or wouldn’t be able to play tennis.

Luckily, cancer hasn’t taken her ability to play tennis and exercise. She plays tennis daily for two hours and takes part in an hour of cardio as well. I am very happy that she has the strength to play tennis while on chemo. Many people sadly have side effects from chemo and it makes them feel very ill. In my mom’s case, she only feels weak and cold on some days. What keeps my mom going is playing tennis. Playing tennis keeps my mom staying positive. Staying positive gives my mom the strength to fight cancer.

Cancer doesn’t just affect my mom, it affects my whole family. I remember being so scared about my mom’s health. I remember staying home from school because I didn’t know how much longer my mom was going to be around. I would rather spend the day with my mom than go to to school. I also stopped caring about school. I wasn’t putting much effort into school either. I didn’t put much effort into my SAT. I just didn’t know how to deal with my life changing as quick as it was and it was easier to let my emotions control my life.

Over the summer my mom wanted me to go to the oncologist with her. I walked into the room and saw the sadness and how frail the patients were. I broke down again. I knew it was time for a change. My mom and I became advocates for Breast Cancer Awareness. Our mission was to show her side of breast cancer and how you can live with this awful disease. There is hope! Ever since we have made this choice, her cancer has improved. She went to Duke Hospital over the summer and learned that her cancer is improving. Our mission was a success!

In order for people to know about Breast Cancer Awareness, we must inform others. My mother recently did a newspaper article for the Herald Dispatch to let the community know how she combats cancer. I also made a bulletin board for my school (near Mrs. Faller’s room). I want teachers and students to know that they aren’t alone if they have someone close who has survived or is fighting cancer.

Overall, Breast Cancer hasn’t taken over my family’s lives, we have just learned to adapt to a new “normal”. I now know I have to live each day to the fullest. I am also spending more time with my mom by going on walks and playing tennis with her. I also don’t have to be afraid like I used to be with my mom’s outlook on cancer. I know my mom is going to live a long life, but we need to not take each day for granted.

At the end of the day, there are a lot of things to be thankful for with my mom’s cancer journey. I am thankful for her ability to play tennis and her positive outlook on her journey. I am most thankful for the fact that when I look at my mom the first thing that doesn’t come to mind is that she has cancer. She looks so healthy. We are so thankful for all the thoughts and prayers that my family has been getting. We can not be thankful enough. Our community has her back along with our cancer patients’ backs too. Thank you!

Check out my mom’s Herald Dispatch article –