It was a silent afternoon when my parents called me and my younger sister downstairs to tell us about the news. We had no idea what was going on, but we knew something was off. We hopped onto the couch as we watched our parents’ sorrowful expressions.
“Your mother’s tests came back, she has breast cancer,” my father said to us. My younger sister and I exchanged a quick worried glance, but we couldn’t just break down like that. We had to be strong for our parents.
My mom was scared. There was no way to describe the fear in her eyes me and my family saw everyday. But one thing I’ve always admired about her was her strength. My mom was a nurse, so she was fully aware of what was going to happen as far as procedure and the type of care she would need afterwards.
He explained to us what would happen in the following weeks. I was the oldest child, so now the responsibilities of the house were to be shifted onto me. I also had to take care of my sister and help her with school, and I had to pass my driver’s license test. My father had his license revoked the previous month due to health problems, so I was going to be the only driver in the house.
Now it was my turn to take all responsibilities into my hand and balance out my last semester of my junior year in high school, which was basically the most important. It’s safe to say that I was freaking out about how I was going to make it out in one piece.
I was facing something incredibly difficult and I had no idea how to react. Everything in my life changed, especially because I was faced with so many more priorities. But this period in my life was what changed and matured me the most as a person.
When everyone is suddenly depending on you for one thing or another, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But it was during this time when I realized that school meant nothing in comparison to being there for my family.
There was no doubt that family was always first priority, but for a high school junior, school was everything to me at the time. I had to climb to the top with the highest scores to get into a good college, right?
No, school wasn’t everything. No matter how messed up our education system is, where people don’t give a crap about what they actually learn in school, school should never be first priority. Health comes first. Health of yourself and of your family. And it took me this experience to realize it.
It was hard to shift from prioritizing school to prioritizing my family, but I had grown so much in these months. It wasn’t about hours of Honors Chemistry or AP US History homework, it was about taking care of my mother and my family.
Everything was brought upon my shoulders, but I wasn’t complaining. I adjusted to my new schedule and felt good being able to be there for the people who needed me the most. Sometimes, our most challenging times can best reflect who we are as people and can really shape how we mature and what we gain.
Through prayer and family support, we all made it out okay. The doctor was actually able to remove the tumor completely from her body. She didn’t have to go through chemotherapy, but she takes heavy medication every day and will have to for the next five years. I still remember the day we got the news, none of us could keep from crying. This not only brought our family closer, but made us appreciate all the little things in life and the moments we have together.