I was thirteen years old when my mother was diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer. I remember we were all in the hospital with her when she was diagnosed at Northwest Hospital & Medical Center. My Dad got a severe look from my mother to keep it together and my brother, Gael, just broke down. I stood there silently. My Dad hugged my brother, and I told my Mom that I would stay home from school this year to take care of her. She sternly retorted “No.” But, I told her that I had a plan. I had been working on this plan for a while because I could tell she wasn’t doing well. I told her that I would stay home, get home schooled by a tutor and do my classwork online. That way I could stay home and take care of her. And she yelled, “No.” So, my angst-driven, teenage-self retorted, “Well, then just make it quick!” Right after, I remember a loud snap hitting my ear drum before a ringing took over, my cheek burned hot, one of my molars came loose and my head snapped to my right. I turned to my left slowly with my hand on my now pulsating cheek, tears welling up in my eyes and watched as my father went from puffing angrily to his face drooping. His eyes spilled tears, his puffing became murmured howls and his arms pulled me in close. He breathed heavily on my head, and I sobbed onto his checkered button down. My Mom could only watch on with tears in her eyes as her family wept together.
I didn’t get to stay home and watch over my Mom. My parents decided it would be best if both my brother and I were out of the house. We went both worked during the day over the summer. My Mom decided against the chemotherapy because she didn’t want to be suffering. I think she knew that there was no going back with the cancer she had. Instead, we took our family holiday one last time. We drove to Lake Wenatchee and stayed in the Vista View Chalet cabin for 3 weeks. My Mom was the one with the most energy. She fought hard to make us all smile and laugh again. I’ll always remember that about her. She never let anything get her down. She wanted to make sure that our last days with her were the best time we’d ever spent together. She passed away four months later.
Because of my Mom, my Dad opened up a foundation for cancer research. We had shirts made for the organization through Charitees. That was probably the hardest year of my life. But, I’ll always cherish the time we had at the cabin. That was my Mom. She was full of life, full of spunk and I am so glad to have known her. And most of all, I hope to one day be half the person she ever was.