Her Story: My Mom Was Diagnosed With Cancer While I Was Studying Abroad

A year ago, I was living the best four months of my life studying abroad in London, traveling around Europe, and creating memories that will last a lifetime. However, after my first week abroad, I received the worst news of my life: my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Just as I was settling into my life abroad, I sat down to Skype with my mom to tell her about my first week in London. She let me gab for an hour about the start to my crazy adventure, then she said those awful 5 words: I have some bad news. Usually, when she uttered those words it was about a death in the family of some old relative that I barely knew, so I was never expecting what she said next. She started off saying "I don't want you to worry." My heart dropped, I knew it was something bad. That's when she explained she went to her doctor, where they ran some tests, and she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

I felt like someone just punched me in the stomach, and a surge of emotions came over me. There truly aren't sufficient words in the human language to describe the emotions I was experiencing. I broke down sobbing, and couldn't stop. I could barely get any words out. My mom proceeded to assure me they caught it early, and it was a "good" prognosis. How could she stay so positive? I thought to myself. There is nothing positive about cancer. Is she going to be okay?!? She’s going to have to go through chemo and radiation. It will probably come back. Cancer always does….. Is this the beginning of the end? It was safe to say I was an emotional hot mess.

I wished more than ever that I could be by my mother's side. I am an only child, so my mom and I are as close as can be. She is my best friend, my partner in crime and my role model. It shattered my heart in a million pieces not being able to be there for her. She has been by my side since day one for everything, and when she needed me the most I couldn’t be there. All of my family except for me was able to be by her side during the start of this awful journey, while I was in London. I felt helpless and wondered why something so awful could happen to such an amazing person. The only way to make sure my emotions didn't engulf me was to reassure myself that everything would be fine and focus on my study abroad experience. 

Even though studying abroad was the most amazing experience of my life, it was also one of the strangest. I was having the time of my life while my mom was fighting for hers. How could I truly enjoy traveling to new places, when she was at home recuperating from chemo? However, all my family members kept assuring me my mom wouldn’t want me any other place than London. She wanted me to cherish my time abroad because it was a once in a lifetime experience, and she didn’t want me to worry about her. Thankfully, once I got home from London, I was able to help my mom through her surgery and the recovery time, which is when she needed me the most.

Fast forward to today, and I am ecstatic to say my mom is in remission and back to living her normal life. Just now, she rocks an adorable gray pixie cut. After this crazy year, I realized life is too short to not live it to the fullest. Such a cliché, but it really is true, because you never know what life is going to throw your way.

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among American women, according to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA), and strikes one in 55 women in this country. We all need to do our part to make sure this horrible disease claims less lives each year! Keep an eye out for yourself, friends, and family, and always keep up with your routine OBGYN appointments.