contributed by Kate Gant
My mom was my world. She is my best friend, my Lorelie Gilmore, my shopping companion, my voice of reason, my hug when I had a bad day even if only over the phone. She was my teacher when I didn’t understand my homework, the chauffer to sports games, my cheerleader, the doctor to all my cuts and bruises, the nurse to all those who ever needed some form of care, my zumba and yoga buddy, my roommate, the lady who chased all the monsters and bad dreams away, my shoulder to cry on, and the laugh to all my jokes. These were the words I spoke at my mom’s funeral.
I still vividly remember the memory, the one that replays over and over in my mind. It was a December evening when my mom told me, “I have cancer.” Cancer. I couldn’t believe it, we had already lost my uncle to melanoma at age 37 and now my mom, age 43, was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer (Primary Peritoneal Carcinoma). A tumor the size of a grapefruit sat where her ovaries once were. The next four years were filled with a rollercoaster of treatments and hope. She went through chemo treatment after chemo treatment ending with a surgery removing the tumor where we were told she was cancer free! But the joy was fleeting, a few months later we were told the cancer was back and had spread to her liver. Those tiny spots that had been there the entire time had morphed into four larger tumors. These were ruled inoperable but they tried to shrink them using radiation beads and more chemo. An option of a trial was brought to our attention. She was so full of hope and excitement. She would finally have her hair again. The trial was rough. She would get high fevers, shake uncontrollably, lost her appetite, lost weight, and eventually lost her ability to walk because of the neuropathy the treatment caused.
Fast forward to January 2, 2016, after spending New Years Eve with her friends, she was too weak to get out of bed. Entering the house that day, something was really off. “There’s nothing more we can do, it has spread to her colon.” My 47-year-old mom was now in hospice and was given two weeks to live. Those next two weeks were a blur and filled with so much emotion, watching my best friend disappear and eventually pass away on January 16, 2016.
All those words I spoke about my mom were true. The past two years without her have been rough. Becoming a mother myself in December, I wish I could just talk to her, ask her questions, and have her be my voice of reason. Although, my grief continues and is something I struggle with daily, I will never lose my memories of her. My mom had grace, beauty, strength, and this ability to make everyone she interacted with feel like they were the most amazing person. I strive to exhibit those qualities every day and hope that I can continue her legacy.