The Strongest Woman I Know


"She's the strongest woman I know," I thought to myself as she told me the news of her finishing her breast cancer treatments. It was only a few weeks prior that she nonchalantly mentioned she had it. She'd been having treatments for some time before her confession and I was pissed. How dare she not tell me this! How dare she not let me be there for her! Why would she keep this to herself!?

My mother never let me bear her burdens. She never wanted me to overwhelm myself with the way life tossed things at her. I was a college sophomore and I suppose she figured school should be my first and only thought. I still don't agree with her. 

She mentioned she had breast cancer as if she had a common cold. As if her life wasn't at stake. As if this 'stuff' wasn't tearing apart her body. Oddly enough, my response was as nonchalant as hers. "You'll get through it!" To this day I don't know if that was encouragement or dismissal. I couldn't ever imagine life without my mom - not now and d*mn sure not then. So my positive response may have been my way of avoiding the severity of what may come. As much as I wish she'd told me sooner, I just wasn't sure how to process the news. I didn't know how I was supposed to handle that. My bout of positivity was the only thing I could truly muster up to say. I guess it was all I had to say.

She carried on. She didn't ask me for anything. She didn't tell me anything. She didn't even request my presence at doctor's appointments. One minute she had cancer and the next she didn't. It was all of a sudden gone and I had missed everything that happened in between. Everyone did. 

Cancer is broadcasted often now, and if chemotherapy is anything like I've seen on TV, I can't believe she didn't call anyone. I can't believe she didn't ask anyone for help or grabbed me or my older brother from college to come take care of her. 

She has always been about her business. Always been accommodating. Always dealt with her problems on her own. She underwent chemotherapy and had a breast augmentation by herself. Without a word to either one of us. My brother was equally as upset as I was. 

But it wasn't her independence that struck me. It wasn't her ability to go to and from and carry on as if nothing was happening. It wasn't her drive to get up and go to work every day because she still had life to tend to. It was the hope she had that she did in fact, still have life. It was her content in the lemons that were thrown at her. It was her resilience to get through this moment and back to the things she had to do. 

My mother didn't complain about her having cancer. I never heard of her crying about it, the pain or her exhaustion. I never heard her complain about the unfairness of life or how horribly treatments affected her. She never mumbled under her breath about it. Never beat herself up about it. And she certainly never complained to God about having to had endured it. Instead, she kept kicking. She kept pushing. And she kept working. 

My mother put herself through college after being sent to and from the Virgin Islands and raised by her brothers and sisters because her mother's lingering presence; obtained a job off talent alone (because back then you didn't need to know somebody that knows somebody); raised my brother and I with little help thanks to a worker's compensation injury that resulted in my father's inability to work; filed bankruptcy, got laid off after 15+ years at her first job, rebuilt her credit + herself and became a home owner (again); worked two jobs to put my brother through college because her new job didn't pay nearly as much as her old one; supported me, my bills + my trips through college; dealt with the stress and physical strain of various health issues on her own and is now taking care of her 91 year old mother the one who barely took care of her - and not one bit of her situations are displayed in her actions. Not one bit of complaint or disdain is represented in her demeanor. Not one bit of "life sucks" or "this sh*t isn't fair" is written upon her face. Not one word of disappointment or struggle has escaped her lips. Not one bit of dissatisfaction or sadness has poured from her soul. 

While I can't imagine she doesn't feel something inside, her ability to pick up life's lemons and carry them in her sack as if there's nothing inside, is enlightening. Her ability to be content with life itself, rather than the occurrences that may improve or ruin it, is empowering. Her continued selflessness, nurturing and umph to press on, is encouraging. And I know that no matter what my mother endures, she'll be okay. No matter what else life decides to throw, she'll make it. 

Because my mom is a breast cancer life survivor and she's the strongest woman I know. 
My mother doesn't like her business being broadcasted (good thing you all don't know her! lol), but I had to use this time, this month, to express my admiration for her strength. Her modesty doesn't allow her to celebrate herself; I just needed her to know that I'm here to celebrate her. I love my mother with every single fiber of my being and will do all I can to compensate her for the way life has treated her and reward her for the way she's responded. 

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