Embracing Resilience: Journeying Through Cancer in My Family
By Sierra Bamsey
June is a significant month for cancer survivors and their families, as it marks National Cancer Survivors Month. It's a time to reflect on the strength and courage of those who have triumphed over this formidable disease and to celebrate their resilience. In honor of this special occasion, I would like to share a personal story of my family's battles with cancer and how they have shaped our lives.
My mother was diagnosed with cancer when I was 15 years old. She had stage 2 triple negative breast cancer, which can be faster growing, so surgery was scheduled immediately. She began chemotherapy on my 16th birthday, and in total received two lumpectomies, 8 rounds of chemotherapy, and 3 months of radiation over the span of 10 months.
She was given a clean bill of health in May of 2011 and continues to be healthy & cancer-free to this day.
Through it all, my mother exhibited remarkable courage. She faced each chemotherapy session with a smile, never allowing the disease to define her. She embraced every bit of hope that came her way, finding solace in the small victories along the way.
One of the most remarkable aspects of my mother's journey was the outpouring of support we received from friends, relatives, and many neighbors. The cancer community is an incredible network of warriors, survivors, and their loved ones who offer comfort, guidance, and a shoulder to lean on. The compassion and understanding we found within our community helped her find the strength to carry on.
Since her diagnosis, we have battled other family members' cancer journeys. My grandmother passed away of ovarian cancer several years later, and her daughter (my aunt) was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. After a round of treatment, a clean bill of health and a family celebration, we were shocked by her second diagnosis of a different type of breast cancer. She recently began her second round of treatment and surgeries and continues to fight.
These experiences taught us to cherish our relationships, prioritize our well-being, and never take anything for granted. It instilled in us a resilience that would shape our lives long after my mother's recovery.
National Cancer Survivors Month serves as a powerful reminder that cancer is not always the end of the story. It is a testament to the indomitable spirit of those who have faced this disease head-on and come out victorious.
To all the cancer survivors and their families, I salute your courage, tenacity, and unwavering spirit. Your stories are a beacon of hope for others facing similar battles. May this month serve as a celebration of life and a reminder that with love and support, we can conquer even the toughest challenges.
Together, let us continue to raise awareness, support ongoing research, and uplift those who are still fighting.
Context: The photo below is of a painting my mother has hung in her home. The poem and painting by Michael Godard portray the tenacity, strength, and courage of those who have battled cancer, and are a reminder that this chapter in your life is always temporary.