Although Mother’s Day has come and gone, I feel there is never a set day or time to show appreciation for your mom. After visiting with my mother over the past weekend I was reminded as to how truly remarkable she is. She truly embodies every role she plays in life , but especially what it means to mother.
I have and will always consider my mom to be one of the most amazing women I know. Not just because of the things she does as a mom, but because of the strength, she shows each day. My mother has shown me the true definition of perseverance because she has never given up when life’s obstacles have gotten in the way. When I think back over the years and all the things my mother has gone through it truly blows my mind; a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis and three cancer diagnosis later she continues to stand tall. Whereas a lot of people would have thrown in the towel my mother continues to fight each day with a smile on her face. Although, witnessing my mother go through all of these things was and has been extremely emotional it has taught me a lot about my mother and it has caused me to grow as a person in the process. I feel compelled to share my mother’s journey with others in order to raise awareness about M.S. and to also show that no matter how devastating and dark things look at the moment, there is always bright spot that can be found in any situation.
For those who may not know, Multiple Sclerosis or MS is a neurological disorder. It debilitates the central nervous system which causes a disruption in the flow of information to the brain and the communication between the brain and the body. Due to the disruption, a multitude of symptoms can occur with this disorder such as numbness and tingling, double vision, difficulty walking, slurred speech, tremors, depression and anxiety, trouble sleeping, and so much more. For the longest, it was challenging for me to talk openly about my mother’s MS diagnosis. I think it was because of the fact that it felt so unreal to me. I could not wrap my mind around the fact that something like this was happening to someone so close to me. I was ten-years-old at the time when my mother began experiencing symptoms of M.S., and I vividly remember my mother going from one doctor’s appointment to the next trying to get a clear explanation as to what was going on with her. Each doctor she went to was seemingly baffled by what could be going on with her. Normally the doctors’ appointments ended with them telling her something to the effect of, “it could be this or it could be that”. Watching my mother at the beginning of her journey with M.S. was like watching a young child trying to navigate the world. Imagine not knowing what is going on with your body, basically losing control of yourself, but still having to follow your routine as if everything is normal. One image that sticks with me to this day was watching my mother try to eat. She lost feeling in her hands so it was often difficult for her to hold things. Seeing her struggle with using her fork was the breaking point for me. Seeing how defeated she was in that moment and how she ultimately had to walk away out of frustration nearly brought me to tears. Watching her having to re-learn all the things we take advantage of each day, like being able to simply brush our teeth, hold a fork, walk, etc really took a toll on me. My mother lost the ability to do two of the things she enjoyed doing the most; her ability to do hair and her ability to draw and paint. My mother and I seemingly began to switch roles. Since birth, she had taken care of me however, at that point I knew it was time for me to step up and take care of her.
It wasn’t until we moved to Wisconsin a year or so later that she was officially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It was a sigh of relief to at least have confirmation as to what was going on now it was just a matter of making sure my mother received the care that she needed. My mother was going to physical therapy and regaining her balance and coordination. She was determined not to have to rely on a cane. She began improving every day, getting stronger and stronger. After a while, It became a norm for my mother to get some sort of testing done frequently whether it was blood work or an MRI. One day, while she was getting the results back for her MRI, they discovered that she had kidney cancer. Although, the news she received was unexpected, I like to think that it was a blessing in disguise. You see the MRI my mother had was not even supposed to scan her kidney area, they were targeting another area however, the person who performed the scan scanned too low. Had they not scanned that that far my mother would not have know she had kidney cancer, and the cancer would have spread. Luckily it was caught just in time.
A few years passed and we moved back to Arkansas, things were seemingly as calm as they could be. I was now in my third year of college and that is when my mother was diagnosed with Gallbladder cancer. This bout with cancer was different from the first because my mother was receiving chemo and radiation. There were times when I would go over to my parent’s house and do my mother’s hair trying to cover the areas where her hair was falling out. Other times I would come over and see her looking tired with the deepest, darkest circles around her eyes. But over all she always kept a smile on her face and that assured me that everything would be okay. She came out of the situation stronger than before.
A few months ago they found cancer in her body again. I immediately became worried. I worried that it would be like previous times. However, my mother was not worried at all. As a woman of faith she prayed, put it into God’s hands, and let it go. A month or so later they tested again and found that the cancer was not present anymore. She did not have to go through chemo or radiation. Hearing that news was truly a blessing.
Currently, My Mom’s health is still not the best, but she pushes through each day and never complains. Following my mother through her journey I learned so many life lessons and I learned who I am. Going through this experience I learned that I have a strength greater than most. I can take what life throws at me. I know that no matter what position I am in in life it is not the final stage. If I have a daughter one day, I would like to have the same relationship with her that I have with my mother. Sometimes we bump heads but at the end of the day I know she has my back like no one else. Through my failures and greatest success she has been there cheering me on, and encouraging me along the way. I am so blessed to have her as my mom. Going through this journey w has allowed me to have a greater appreciation for my mother and mothers in general. So many mothers walk amongst us everyday, from so many different walks of life, and carry burdens that we may never understand. Thank the mothers you know in your life everyday. Show them that they are seen and appreciated. This post is dedicated to my mom and all the other moms out there who go through so much but still manage to smile. Your smiles brighten our world.
As always, thank you for reading, and in the comments below let me know about your fondest memories with your mother. For more information about Multiple Sclerosis go to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
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