I had just finished my first year of ”gymnasium” (high school). The first week of the summer I had spent in a cottage at Österlen with friends I made during this exciting year. It was an ideal summer week – swimming in the ocean, eating ice cream, some partying… The evening I got home, I was suppose to go to a graduation party with a friend. I just started to picking my outfit and doing my make up when my mom suddenly put an end to my fun evening plans. When I look at that moment now, it of course was a tiny crappy thing to be upset for, but telling to a 16 year old that you can not go to a party with the argument ”Because I say so” was not very popular at the time. Little did I know that the reason I was not allowed to go was because my parents would walk into my room with my sister following close behing, to drop the bomb. The bomb who shook not only my room, but my whole world, my life. My mother had been struck with breast cancer.
The following days were surreal. How could life continue as if nothing happened? How could everything be the same when nothing was the same? I was angry. And I am still angry. I am so pissed off on the world and at cancer.
That summer, and the autumn 2014 as well as the spring 2015 was, to express it gently, hell of a time. I knew that the chances was actually pretty good, from a statistical point of view. But I was scared. I was so scared. Scared that my mum, who had always been there, suddenly should not be there anymore. I was afraid that she would be that one person out of ten who does not survive breast cancer.
Just a few weeks after my parents told me and my sister, my mum got surgery. She did not have to remove her whole breast. I can imagine that I am not the only one who pictures their mother as the strongest person in the world. I had never seen her so small and powerless as in the recovery room. And this was just the beginning.
By the end of that summer, she started getting chemo therapy. It is so much worse than one can picture. She started to lose her hair, and got very, very tired. She barely ate, she spent all her days sleeping and the side effects of the treatment was terrible just to witness. I can not imagine how it felt for her. I think this was the most tempting period of time for the whole family, both physically and mentally. It hurt. It hurt so much to see ones mother in that way. The treatment went on for months. The following year, 2015, the radiation treatment had its start. Every day for more than a month, she had to go to Lund to get her treatment.
That summer, summer 2015, I cut almost all of my hair. It was a symbol to show her that it is ”just hair”, and that it grows back. It was clear to me that not only the mental condition was tempting, but also how upsetting the change of her looks was to her. Her hair, her eyebrows, her lashes. It all disappeared. The color of the skin changed. She could barely walk due to side effects.
It was hard to tell others. I remember that I could not really talk about it ”in real life”. I did not want to see my friends pity faces when it was not for me they should feel compassion for. I was not the one who got struck by cancer. I remember that I cried all the time, and that I was super angry.
It is okay to be sad. It is okay to be angry. It is okay to scream and cry. You can not put sadness on a scale. It is okay to feel. It does not matter what type of cancer – it is hard. It is hard for the patient and it is hard for the relatives. I realised that I never really understood how hard it was, before I got to live through it. I understand now and I will never, ever be able to describe it in words.
Today, my mother is healthy and fighting. She fought her cancer and she survived. I am proud and I am happy. But not everybody gets this lucky, and that is why it is super important to continue spread the message and knowledge.
I often receive the question if I am worried about myself. Cancer is hereditary. My mother was the first in our family, what we know of, who got cancer. I had never reflected how common the disease actually is. And yes, I am worried. But not only for my self. I barely knew how to detect breast cancer. But now I know, and now I realise how important it is to spread the knowledge and information. My mother survived her cancer. But a lot of people do not. Even though breast cancer are getting much attention, it is not enough. It will never be enough.
One of the absolutely worst days of my life, unless the day I was told about it, was when me and my mum was riding in the car and she said ”Sofia, you have to promise me one thing. Promise me, that if something happens to me… Promise, that you continue. Continue with school and continue with your life.” Nobody, absolutely nobody, should have to hear those words. Nobody should have to hear the words ”You have cancer”. In order to achieve this, we all have to work together. And that is why I will continue to fight against cancer.
It is satisfying to see LundaEkonomerna’s engagement within the Rosa Bandet-campaign. Every movement and every effort contribute to the common goal – find a cure. Today, 25/10, the board hosted a wonderful event in Ljusgården where you could both donate money and win a giftcard to a supermarket. Even though the campaign month is not yet over, the goal from last year, 5600 SEK, is already broken. Way to go, LundaEkonomer!
You can continue to donate via LundaEkonomerna at https://www.cancerfonden.se/insamlingar/lundaekonomerna.
One out of three gets cancer – but it affects everybody.