This entry was written by Jackie Roth, PhD student at Thomas Jefferson University. Jackie was diagnosed with Stage III A breast cancer at the age of 28. Every other Friday, throughout the entire year of 2011, Jackie will share a blog entry about her breast cancer experience. This year-long blog series is in honor of LBBC’s 20th anniversary.
To read Jackie’s previous entries, enter “ Jackie Roth” in the search box on this site.
Although the spring is full of sunshine and overall happiness, this time of year always makes me a little sad. In particular around Mother’s Day, which just passed a few weeks ago. My mom, Mindy, passed away 6 years ago in July 2005 at 49 years old due to colon cancer. She was diagnosed with Stage IV disease when she was 48. It was only six months between the time of her diagnosis and her death.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. She passed away when I was 23, and I feel like I was just at the age when we were starting to become friends. I know that I definitely had a little attitude as a teenager growing up, which probably prevented us from being super close. My attitude was just starting to wear off when she was diagnosed. I know there is a saying that your golden birthday, which would be when I was 22, is supposed to be the best year of your life. It was my last year with my mom.
My mom was an absolutely wonderful person. My husband, Ron, never got a chance to meet her. She was incredibly smart, one of those people who could just complete a cross word puzzle in no time (and without cheating on the internet too!). She could sing very well and starred in musicals in her school growing up. I remember her, and my dad, giving up so much so that my sister and I could have the best opportunities possible. My mom would drive me to ballet classes and performances in the city after school, giving up her afternoons and evening. She took my sister and me to the mall at least once a week to shop for clothes for us, but she rarely got anything. At the last Christmas we got to spend with her we got her a really nice designer scarf, umbrella, and sunglasses. She cried when she opened the presents because she was so shocked. Now, my dad has her scarf, my sister has her sunglasses, and I have the umbrella.
Going through my breast cancer journey is difficult without my mom. Most of my friends have their mothers accompany them to the doctors, to chemo, to radiation as well as care for them after surgery. Being sick sometimes you just want your mother. There are some things that moms can just make all better, and I felt like cancer was one of those things too. Maybe if she were here, she could make it all go away.
Although my mom was not with me along this journey, I know she was watching from above and she sent some pretty wonderful people in her place to be with me. Barbara is my mother-in-law who basically took over my apartment and ran the show while I was out for surgery and chemo. She sends cards and gifts at each milestone of my treatment! Dale is actually the mother to one of my best friends, and also a breast cancer survivor. At the beginning of my treatments, Dale gave me a coin to carry that was with her during her treatments. It hasn’t left my wallet since. She also called every week to see how I was doing, and it was great talking to someone who has really been through it all. My Dad got married just a short time after I did, to a wonderful woman named Iza. I have a lot in common with her, mostly our love of fashion. Iza never comes to visit without bringing me a cute new outfit and it always puts a smile on me face. Although I miss my mom dearly every day, I know that I can count on these women and I am so thankful to have them in my life.
How has your breast cancer diagnosis helped you form long-lasting relationships with women who you otherwise wouldn’t have crossed paths with? Like Jackie, sometimes during devestating times, we are put in the paths of others who have a special way in helping us heal. Tell us your story! Comment here or on our Facebook page.