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Lung Cancer and My Mother

Updated on March 4, 2018

The Strongest Woman I Have Ever Known


Her name was Debbie Heart, and she was my mother. My whole life, I always looked up to her. She worked at the Village of Skokie, helping senior citizens on a daily basis. She was dedicated to happiness, in others’ lives, and in the purest form of the word. Ever since I was a little baby, my mother was always there for me. She always made sure I was the happiest a child could be, all the while showing a smile that could light up anyone’s heart. She never raised her voice, or appeared rude to anyone. We made cookies together, did crafts (one of her favorites hobbies) and I even joined her at work some days after school because I just loved spending time with her. Her only vice was that she had started smoking cigarettes at a young age, and like my father, could never find the will power to stop.


My family and I would go on vacations together to where my mom used to live, which is a quiet town in Upper Michigan. Everyone always looked forward to this time, because to this day it is still the most peaceful way to escape whatever is going on in our lives. In the summer of 2006, we unknowingly took our last vacation together. It was the same as any previous one; we all enjoyed ourselves and relaxed. My mom and I would go swimming together, visit "Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore" (see picture at top of hub) and go shopping at the local malls. It was another great vacation.Then, in the months that followed us coming home, things took a turn for the worse. My mother started having more coughing fits, and it developed into bronchitis. Needless to say, she went to the doctor to try and get some medicine for the problem. She didn't think much of it, she just knew that her coughing was always more severe because of how much she smoked. It was October, there was a shrill coldness in the air, but beneath that there was an utter feeling of dread. I was home from school one night when my mom came downstairs to talk to me. She revealed that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer.


She went on to say that everything would be alright, but I was having troubles focusing. I could not hear her words after ‘cancer’, for that word kept echoing inside my mind. The next month she began radiation therapy, in an attempt to 'zap away' the tumors that had been created. She also stopped smoking, but it was apparent to everyone that the damage had already been done. I kept going to school; it was my final year of junior high. Though my thoughts would be distracted, and instead of keeping up with homework, I would be using class time to call my mom after doctor appointments and make sure she was okay. She was the only member of my family I was close to, how could I not be petrified? Winter came around and she began chemotherapy. She started wearing a little hat so that she would not feel as self conscious. One morning I went into her bedroom to wake her up and I saw how much hair she had actually lost. There were only a few tufts left of her gorgeous blonde hair. I stood there and tried to hold in my tears, mourning a part of my mother I knew she missed as well. Christmas came around and she got terminated from her job where everyone loved her so much. She was just not expected to get better.

I could not believe that. New Years came around, and things seemed to be getting even more troublesome. I was having issues handling everything and had to enter the hospital and stay as an in-patient for mental stability. While I was there, my mothers’ doctors came to a prognosis. I was taken into a conference room at the hospital and told by my father that my mom would only have six months to a year to live. I was broken, and all I can remember is walking back into my room and bawling into a blanket. I tried calling my mother a couple nights later from the hospital, only to find out that she had gotten worse in the two weeks I had been away. She could hardly even speak now, and the tumors had meta-sized to her brain, giving her massive migraines. The next day, I was discharged and I went home to find the couch in the living room gone. In its place, was a hospital bed, with my mother laying on it. Her hospice had begun.

I tried to stay by her side as much as I could. I read her a note I had written whilst in the hospital about how much I loved her, and how much I wish I had not taken her for granted. I thought she would be around to see me turn sixteen, start driving, and get married. It was three months from my graduation of junior high; I had hoped she would have been better by then. It was just the opposite. Contrary to the prognosis we received, my mother died just two weeks after I came home. I was fourteen years old, and my mother was only fifty-one. We had a lot more time to spend together. My world shook like never before. About three weeks later, we held the funeral. It was open, and we were expecting our family and friends to show up, and they did. Along with them, many, many more people who were effected by my mother showed up. When we expected around 25-50 people, more than two hundred showed up in honor. The church was filled, with people standing in the back. It was beautiful, and I gave my eulogy to all those people with love in my heart. I cried, and they cried with me, and I felt one of the strongest human connections I had ever experienced in that room.

With my mother's passing, I can truly say that it really opened my eyes to how the world works. Nothing is ever guaranteed, and I really believe now in cherishing everything that you’ve got while you can. I never want to let a person come into my life and let them leave without knowing how great it was to know them. My mother was my best friend, and I know she is still my guardian angel. Her will to help people has been passed down to me, and I keep that state of mind wherever I go. I just want people to be happy as well.

I believe that awareness, at least in this case, can really make a difference. My mother died from cigarettes, from the addiction, and from the horrible chemicals put into them. If you ever have a chance to stop someone from starting to smoke, please do. You could end up being a true life-saver. Cancer is a horrible disease. My aunt had been diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after this happened, but thankfully the cancer is in remission and she is doing quite well. I send my regards to anyone who has ever lost someone to this illness, my thoughts and praises for strength to the people who are currently dealing with cancer themselves (or acting as a caregiver). Let's work together to continue raising awareness and finally finding a cure.


Thank you for reading.

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    • Teresas Girl profile image

      Teresas Girl 

      7 years ago from Glasgow, UK

      Your post was so touching and heartfelt. You are an amazing person essiheart - no doubt because you take after your dear mother.

      I am 35 and my mum has stage Stage 4 NSC Lung Cancer - I find this exteremly difficult to deal with but I have no idea how you have found the strength at such a young age - I am simply in awe.

      I wish you nothing but a life filled with love, happieness and laughter essiheart. Sending you massive hugs ()()() and good thoughts ;D

    • sphinxycat01 profile image

      sphinxycat01 

      7 years ago from MN

      Thank you for sharing. My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer 3 weeks ago. He also has several tumors in his spine. Radiation is being done on his spine, but nothing can be done at present for his lung. It is a small spot, and we are hoping he will get healthy enogb for chemo. Thanks again.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      8 years ago from Chicago

      I have tears in my eyes after reading this heart wrenching story. I am sorry for your loss. Life is short for all of us. Let us cherish the moments we have. And let us truly love those we love.

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 

      8 years ago from California

      Essiheart-

      I do know how you feel to a certain extent, my Mother and best friend in the world died 2 years ago from lung cancer-a very aggressive one, she was dead within a week of being diagnosed. I feel she had so much more to do in life and I miss her so much, I can relate to never taking anything for granted! I hope you are doing ok, I am sure the experience made you stronger but it is still so much pain to deal with. This Hub was a beautiful tribute to her memory and I hope I can do one at some point too. Thank you for sharing!

    • profile image

      have2write@hubpages.com 

      8 years ago

      PLEASE read my Hub at "There is a cure for cancer." as it could have cured your mother.This is so true. Read the url's Ihave included so you can read about this discovery in 1951 which as been suppressed by those medical and pharmaceutical companies and organizations which make millions on chemotherapy and radiation. So many people ignore this information because it is so simple and costs next to nothing. Read it and help spread the word. have lostmany friends and relatives to cancer since 1951 but am now working to spread this information-out of grief.

    • profile image

      Julie Frost 

      8 years ago

      I cried for you, thank you for such a beautiful story.It does help to know that there are many of us out there who have lost beautiful mothers to cancer (mine was 42) Like you I remember the good things and am grateful for them even the church packed to overfollowing -all thoes that loved my mother and thoes that loved Debbie -not an enemy in the world between them

    • DannyMaio profile image

      DannyMaio 

      8 years ago from New York

      You brought back memories of my Mother who also died of Lung cancer at 47. I truly know what your going through and It does get easier, you will always remember but it gets easier to deal with. The suffering with Lung cancer is terrible, I also think the chemo was the hardest as my mother would say it feels like they put gasoline inside her. Just do as I do and remember all those beautiful memories as your mom sounds just like mine was. They say only the good die young. Thanks again for the great hub.

    • essiheart profile imageAUTHOR

      essiheart 

      8 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Thank you all for reading and sharing such wonderful feedback. Writing this was very helpful for me, as I deal best with problems through writing. I am still in the healing process of course, but it is slowly getting easier to accept. My love goes out to anyone who has ever had to deal with this horrible disease in any form.

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 

      8 years ago from New Jersey

      Thank you for sharing your story, and I hope that it was cathartic for you. It is hard to be so young without your Mom. You sound very strong, and remember it takes everyone a different amount of time to heal. Go at your own pace, and keep talking if you need to. Best wishes to you.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Thank you for sharing such a painful story and your sounds like she was a wonderful lady. Congrats on your nomination.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      8 years ago from Minnesota

      Oh my gosh, I am having a hard time typing with the tears rolling down. Your mother is beautiful and you were blessed to have the time with her. You are so strong to be able to go through this and do your mother's eulogy. Your mom is truly your guardian angel and seeing how you are living her legacy of helping others. I am a lung cancer survivor of seven years. I had never smoked but with this environment, it is becoming more common. I feel blessed with every day God gives me and tell people how much I love them and don't sweat the small things anymore. I see you too have learned so much from this painful experience. All pain doesn't need to be in vain if we take something from it. You sound like a very caring and strong woman. God Bless you for sharing this story with us.

    • GlueArticlePro profile image

      GlueArticlePro 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Great hub it really touched me. Those big cigarette corporations should be ashamed of themselves.

    • elayne001 profile image

      Elayne 

      8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      You are lucky you have very fond memories of your mother. She sounds like she really cared for you and others. I had a boss die young from lung cancer. He smoked many cigarettes every day and I received the second hand smoke, so I guess I could also get it. Congrats on the nomination. Very good hub.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      As I look at the photo of your mother, I see her beautiful smile and it is very heartwarming. May this story touched many people and help us make the right choices every day.

      Blessings to you essi...

      Did you hear the good news? This hub is a hubnuggets nominee! Do check it out: https://hubpages.com/hubnuggets6/hub/Shadiws-if-th... Be sure to cast your vote... :D

    • essiheart profile imageAUTHOR

      essiheart 

      8 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Thank you all so much for such beautiful words.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image

      Linda Rawlinson 

      8 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      I am so sorry that you lost your mum Essi. I can only begin to imagine how you feel, and I know that I'm nowhere close to really knowing. My mum is currently undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, and unlike it was in your family's case, we are able to laugh about the things that are happening to her such as hair loss, and able to find the humour and beauty in everything, because we are safe in the knowledge that my mum's prognosis is very good. I can't think how I would be reacting to all of this right now if I knew that my mum was going to leave me. But I think that we (my mum and me, and our family and friends) have a kind of duty to people who have died and who will die from cancer, to enjoy the time we have, and be thankful that we're together now. Like you said, nothing is guaranteed, and if there is one positive thing to be taken from cancer, it is that it has reinforced for us the notion that we must make the most of every minute we have.

      Thank you for sharing your story. Your mum would be proud of your strength, and the fact that you are inspiring people now.

      Linda.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      essiheart, wonderful, well-written article. Congratulations on your nomination.

    • profile image

      Lersun Larelio 

      8 years ago

      Your a very strong girl, to write about this and make it so good. I know it can be hard to write a story about personal loss, since your emotions make it hard to focus on the narrative.

    • Jeremey profile image

      Jeremey 

      8 years ago from Arizona

      Touching an inspirational for anyone who may have gone or will go through such an experience. Beautifully told story and love the strength and courage behind it. Congrats on your hubnugget nomination, best of luck!

    • essiheart profile imageAUTHOR

      essiheart 

      8 years ago from Chicago, IL

      DIYweddingplanner, I'm very sorry for your loss. Losing your mother is an ordeal that no one should have to face, it is so terribly painful :(

      Monisajda, thank you for your comment, I am very sure your children will have wonderful things to say about you :). Thanks so much for reading.

    • Monisajda profile image

      Monisajda 

      8 years ago from my heart

      A very touching story. I only wish that someday my children would have such beautiful words to describe me. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on being nominated!

    • DIYweddingplanner profile image

      DIYweddingplanner 

      8 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      So sorry for the loss of your mother. I lost my mom, too of a heart attack, not cancer and it's a very hard thing to face. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • essiheart profile imageAUTHOR

      essiheart 

      8 years ago from Chicago, IL

      I am very sorry for the loss of your father, epigramman. I am slowly healing. I know that you can attest to the fact that it is a slow, painful journey after the death of a parent, especially to a horrible disease like cancer.

      Thanks so much for the kind words WillStarr.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 

      8 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      It is always hard to lose a parent, but to be a daughter and lose your mother at just 14 is a crushing blow.

      My deepest sympathies.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 

      8 years ago

      ... I can't say I know how you felt - or how you feel but I want you to know that you are not alone and if you ever want to talk - let me know - because I too lost my dad (my best friend) to lung cancer back in 1992.

    • essiheart profile imageAUTHOR

      essiheart 

      8 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Thank you Mrs. Davis. I really appreciate what you said.

    • profile image

      Andrea Davis 

      8 years ago

      Essi-

      This is such an amazing story and I now see where you get your strength from. Thank you for letting me know about this blog. I wish you all the best! Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you follow your dreams.

      Mrs. Davis

    • essiheart profile imageAUTHOR

      essiheart 

      8 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Thanks Tommy. It means a lot to me.

    • profile image

      Tommy 

      8 years ago

      Hey essi. This is Tommy from last year in us history. I'm so sorry. Your a very strong woman.

    • essiheart profile imageAUTHOR

      essiheart 

      8 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Thank you for reading :) I hope so too, that would be great.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      8 years ago from France

      Thank you for sharing such an intimate story. I hope wrting this helped you and I also hope that reading this can help at least one person to stop smoking.

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