Stories of hope

Anna Presser


I’d like to share the story my son, Mike, wrote for the Lafayette Journal & Courier about his experience during my breast cancer journey:

Mother’s Strength Inspires

The first time my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer I had just turned 9 years old.

I was a carefree third-grader with moppy blond hair and tennis shoes with lights that lit up when I walked.

I knew vaguely what cancer was. My uncle and grandfather had died from it and so too would my aunt and other grandfather.

But there was still plenty I didn’t know, like why something called chemotherapy made my mom come home from work and go straight to bed or why she got to wear a wig but wouldn’t let me wear my ninja mask at the dinner table.

The first time I saw her in the wig I thought a stranger had broken into our house and was sitting at our table stealing our breakfast.

I remember a lot of doctor’s offices. Sometimes they’d let me inside the exam room. Some-times I was left in the waiting room, in which case I learned fairly quickly how to occupy myself with doodles and action figures.

After she beat the cancer, doctors gave her a 10 year window, after which the cancer had a much lesser chance of coming back.

Nine years later I was 18 and preparing to start my freshman year at Purdue University when she got the news the cancer had returned.

But she didn’t mope. Instead, she did it again – the surgery, the chemo – and I wasn’t surprised when she beat it the second time.

She’s the strongest person I’ve ever known. Also the most consistently optimistic – which when I was a teenager, I admit, irritated me to no end. It’s tough being a moody teen when your mom won’t stop smiling.

But it’s not that she wasn’t scared that made her story and that of others like her inspirational; it’s how she overcame that fear.

I’ve seen the impact her example has made on the network of friends she’s developed who have gone or are going through the same struggles with cancer.

She recently told me that during her battles she found strength in me because she didn’t want me to have to grow up without a mother.

Now, to see her giving that strength to others, seems only fitting.

Written by Mikel Livingston about his mother, Cheryl Livingston for the Journal & Courier newspaper.

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