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My Mom, the Survivor


Elizabeth (mom) and Sierra at her furry grandbaby’s first trip to the beach, years after finishing her treatments.

Friends, I don’t ask for much (except that you ask me permission to use my pictures) but I am going to ask something of my readers this time. I’ve entered my mom into the Kentucky Oaks Survivor Parade nomination group. While she was never the passionate fan of racing that I am, she was always my most passionate supporter -no matter what I did- and this now expands to my racing industry dreams. This is a bit about her, her story, and how much it would mean for her to get this chance. At the end, I will include a link to vote, and if my words have moved you, please cast one for her. If you’ve already got someone else with your vote, I would be so grateful if you shared this post.

My parents came to America for the same reason many people do: they wanted a better life for themselves and their family. My father is a carpenter and my mother graduated from a Polish 2-year college with what could be called an Associate Degree in hospitality. Basically, she could manage anything into an empire. However, it was not recognized in America, so she had to start with the only job available to “uneducated” women at the time. She’s been a housekeeper ever since, and I don’t think I could be prouder of her if I actively tried to come up with reasons. Thanks to her dedication, my childhood was amazing. I got to travel and experience new things. I never went without and I got to start my very expensive hobby of riding horses. My parents both work hard and my mom was always home with some kind of dinner prepared every day until I started high school. It wasn’t until I became a college student did I realize how lucky I was to have a mom like that; some people never got to experience even a fraction of my good life.

I was in the seventh grade when she was diagnosed. I don’t remember exact dates. My mom never wanted her picture taken during the course of her treatments, so I don’t even really have anything to reference for a potential date. She didn’t want the reminders that she had been sick once the cancer was gone. All I remember was how little I knew about the disease beyond DEATH WARRANT, DEATH WARRANT, DEATH WARRANT. Your friends tend not to be the most accurate source of information now, much less when you’re all young teens. Thankfully, the knowledgeable people in my life stepped in to easy my panic, but it still did little to prepare me for what breast cancer truly entailed.

The years of her treatment blur together but I remember very specific events or things that were said during that time period.

  1. So many people stepped up to help us. My family had always been largely self-sufficient and we were taught to always take care of ourselves; don’t rely on others. Once the chemo and the surgeries started, that wasn’t really an option. My dad had to travel to where the jobs were to keep us afloat (once she healed from surgery) and this left us three largely alone until almost my junior or senior year in high school. Our swim team family came to our rescue: they took us to practice, meets, and kept my mom in the loop with goings-on. My aunt left her home in Arizona behind for a few months and lived full-time with us getting my mom to and from the hospital for chemo, upkeeping the house and even took on the mantle as part-time comedian. The women my mom worked for helped with groceries, and always had a suggestion for overcoming nausea or side effects plaguing her. I got to experience the best of humanity.
  2. My mom had a double mastectomy. I stayed up the entire night prior (this coming from someone who slept through the apartment complex behind us literally exploding) and over-thought everything. I went to practice and then to class as normal thanks to a friend of hers taking me. My dad -who was still at home then- told me that my mom woke up from the surgery and the first thing she said was “Oh, I need to wake up my children for school. They’ll be late.”. My parents prize our education and being educated is highly respected in my family. They both did a lot to make sure that my brother and I have a good future, and not even anesthesia could stop her.
  3. She tried working after chemo treatments despite everyone telling her to stay home. Yup. You read that right. She was so bored staying in bed all the time that she tried to clean, cook, and go to work. I had to threaten her with tattling to one of her nurse friends before she relented and even then, she still got mad at me. She stubbornly tried again in secret, thinking we didn’t know, but we knew. But alas, it’s her fault I’m this way. She’s half of my genetics but she’ll pretend she doesn’t know who that stubbornness could possibly come from… you, mom. It comes from you. 😛
  4. The day she took her last post-chemo pill. It was a huge day. She was done. It was gone. Every test came back clean every year since then. It is truly gone. She kicked cancer’s ass.

My mom is a survivor and she’s lived like one every day since then. When her friends also got diagnosed with cancer, she was the first to step up and help. To “payback” the kindness she was shown. She bakes them their favorite pastries, breads, and makes them their favorite Polish food. My mom has always given back, always been the one to help, and even now, she continues to help those that ask for it. Just this once, I would like to give her something she’ll remember for the rest of her life. I want the world to meet my mom, the breast cancer survivor. My mom, wonder woman. My mom, the best mom in the world.

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