How to Cope When Your Mom is Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

The month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and it’s important that we talk about it. The word “cancer” has to be one of the worst ones out there. When someone you know or love is diagnosed with this awful disease, it’s one of the hardest things to deal with.

In 2015, I was home from school for the fall reading week during my first year of university. I was dealing with the average stresses that any other student my age felt — or that’s what I thought. I remember the night so clearly. I was getting ready to go to my friend’s house when my parents asked my brother and I to sit down to talk. Immediately, my stomach dropped. “We need to talk” are never good words to hear, but I was not expecting what was coming next. My first thought? This can’t be real: my mom is healthy.

The next few minutes were a blur. A million things ran through my mind. Why her? Why us? What was going to happen? The worst thoughts imaginable went through my mind. I had never felt so helpless in my life. I remember feeling guilty for being upset. I had to be there for my mom. But how was I supposed to do that? For the past 18 years, my mom was always the one to make me feel better. Now, I knew it was my turn to step up.

There are a few things that I wish I knew before I found out my mom had cancer, but also things I learned along the way.

1. Everything is going to change and that’s okay.

Life will be different, but that is okay! You are going to learn more about yourself and your family now and realize how strong you all are. 

2. It’s better to talk about it.

Don’t keep your thoughts and feelings in. There are so many people and/or services available for you to reach out to! Your friends might not know what to say and you can’t blame them for that. Still, talking about it can help you get some feelings off your chest and feel a little bit better.

3. You’re not alone.

There are so many people who have been through or are going through what you’re feeling. Find people to talk to! 

4. Don’t be afraid to be scared.

Cancer sucks and there’s no denying it. It is okay to be scared —  you’re human!

5. Do anything you can to show your support.

Go to appointments, ask questions, be informed and just be there to hang out. Some days are better than others, just be there for when it counts!

Now, let’s flash-forward to three years later. After several surgeries, chemotherapy and treatments of radiation, I can proudly say that my mom is a cancer survivor. It is difficult to describe how the past three years have been for my family, but we overcame the biggest challenge yet. And my mom is my hero.

To all of the women battling this horrible disease: you are a badass. And if you’re reading this and you are in a similar position, you will get through this!