When someone you love gets breast cancer your world freezes and you’re forced to make a decision. Option #1, do you isolate yourself and deal with your emotions alone? Or option #2, do you put your emotions aside and comfort your loved one in some way to let them know that they aren’t in this battle alone? A little background information, my mother is one of the strongest and most caring people on this planet. She is the person that family, friends, and her students go to whenever they are feeling troubled and need advice or just want to talk about life.

So, when she told me the news I was left speechless. This woman who never showed a weakness my entire life suddenly had this feeling of uncertainty. At this moment I knew I had to choose one of the options. With everything she has done for me it would have been selfish if I didn’t choose option #2. Rather than getting sad and making my mother feel worse, I decided to put a smile on my face and one on hers by cracking a joke. This simple action let her know that I was going to continue being her goofy, caring, and favorite son during this time that she felt like her world was falling apart and nothing would be normal.

For a person like me who deals with extreme anxiety, it was surprising that I was able to deal with this as well as I did. Especially since I had to deal with schoolwork, sports, and getting into college at the same time. I was able to deal with it so well because I knew that if there was one person that could beat cancer it would be my mom. The occasional “my mom has cancer” thought is the only time I ever really felt down, but that was rare because instead of being depressed she continued being her normal positive, loving, and outgoing self. It also helped that she was drowning in support from loved ones.

This experience, that was supposed to be a tragedy, turned out to be a blessing. It showed the importance of putting someone else’s feelings ahead of your own. If all of my family members and my mom’s friends chose option #1 and didn’t give her the support that she deserved, who knows what would have happened. Most importantly, it gave my mom a new purpose. She decided to put in more work and start her own non-profit organization to help women by promoting the early detection of breast cancer and live healthy lives.

~ Cody Sanford