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On a Friday night 13 years ago, my older sisters and I made plans to attend a Saturday night concert. It was to be our first concert. We never made it. My sister called and told us our mom was diagnosed colon cancer.
Before the call, I was a normal graduate school student and couldn’t wait to have fun on Saturday night. Within 30 minutes after the call, like a robot, I sold the tickets and packed my bag. I closed my door, and, for the whole night, I cried like a baby.
Up until that day, the prospect of death was never been real to me. When I saw my mom a few days later, she looked calm and smiled like she just got a simple cold. I smiled back, and said, "I am back." We chatted and laughed throughout the night at the hospital. The nurse asked me to leave at 11 p.m. My mom and I didn’t say anything, but just looked down. At that moment, I wished I could stop time. “Sleep tight,” said my mom. She looked so brave. For someone who raised four kids, she feared nothing.
On the day of her surgery, I stood in the corner of my mom’s ward. She kneeled on the bed and prayed to God. I could see her fears and weakness that she hid from us. I turned back away and tried to control my shaking and crying. I did not want her to see this. The 6-hour surgery was the longest 6-hours I have known.
When she came out of the operating room, she was still asleep - not yet awake from the anesthesia. This is the first time I looked at my mom in such details, the bony chin, and pale skin. For me, it is hard to say “Love” to people that I love. I took this moment to whisper “Thank you mom, for your gray hair from raising me; thank you mom, your hands wrinkled for taking care of our family, thank you mom. I whispered a million thank yous that I had never told her.
Unexpectedly, my father opened up and shared his love. The most stoic man I knew was holding a bouquet. He had never given her a bouquet, not even when they got married. I still remember the day when my father’s face showed up behind the curtain, with the flowers. It was a big surprise, and in that moment, I know my mom definitely felt it. I then realized this was ‘the moment’, like no other moment, was the most important in my life.
Life is never easy; it was stage 4 colon cancer. My mom lost most of her colon and was left with a long scar. Chemo was terrible too, but nothing could be better than her making it through it. I thank God for showing me what the treasure in my life is when I was young; showing me what is most important in my life, when I was ignorant; and for helping me understand how life is short, and love is eternal.
World Cancer Day