When cancer tried to take everything away, Little Pink gave back.
2023 Scholarship Winner
“Your mom has cancer,” my dad told me. This was a new word; cancer.
“It means that your mom will be very sick”. Sick. My nine year old self thinks of getting strep throat. You feel icky for a little while and maybe throw up a bit, but then you spend a day or two at home watching TV and eating popsicles and you’re back at school the next day. Being sick wasn’t that serious. But this was serious. I could feel the gravity of this new, pungent word, squeezing the air from the room, suffocating. The elephant in the room, its newfound presence was undeniable. It was slithering about, a slippery thief released from Pandora’s box. It found refuge, conspicuously nestled in every nook and cranny of our home. Cancer. My fathers eyes were red and puffy. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen him cry. I heard muffled tears from my mothers bedroom, slicing through the paper thin silence of the house. I too started to cry.
Over the next several months I became well acquainted with this new, two-syllable word and all its nuances. Cancer. It meant that my mom took lots of trips to the doctor. It meant that Grandma came to watch us when my parents stayed at the hospital overnight. It meant a new casserole every day of the week. It meant lots of quiet time by the TV, letting noise drown out the melancholic silence. Books became an escape, redirecting my ruminating thoughts away from the reality that my mother was seriously ill. Nothing could have prepared me for the image of my mom lying sick in a hospital bed with an IV protruding from her arm. I could almost see the cancer lurking beneath the surface of her skin, tainting it a greenish color and making her hair fall away in wisps until there was nothing left. My mom became a shell of her usual self, drained of the enthusiasm and energy that once exuded from her personality. She tried to portray her normal positive energy around me and my siblings, but chemo sapped her strength. Cancer takes.
When my mom was sick, I had to learn how to take care of my younger siblings. I had to be strong; I had to be a role model. The situation demanded that I grow up faster than other kids my age to fulfill that empty position which my mom once occupied, packing lunches for my younger siblings and making sure that we all made it to the school bus on time. It was difficult temporarily living without my mom fulfilling her normal, motherly duties. It wasn’t until then that I’d realized how much she held our family together. As she became more sick I could feel our foundation begin to crumble. Cancer takes.
When cancer snuffed out the light, Little Pink became a beacon of hope. One day they contacted us saying that we had been selected for a retreat to Oak Island, North Carolina. Now suddenly there was something for my family to look forward to; a light at the end of the tunnel. When we arrived at the retreat, we were welcomed wholeheartedly. We got to immerse ourselves in the beautiful town and enjoy the sunny change in scenery. We got to do fun things as a family! We hung out on the beach, went paddle boarding, and even had dinner in an aquarium. We also met so many incredible people on the retreat who were also going through, more or less, the same situation that my family was going through. At home there was nothing worse than when someone would tell me “I understand how you feel”. They didn’t. How could anyone possibly understand how I felt? How could they know what it’s like to be part of a family who is battling cancer? Even though only my mom was sick, cancer affects the whole family. It isolated us. We were all victims, but suddenly we weren’t alone. Little Pink connected us with other people who were battling breast cancer; other victims. It was validating to know that there were other people going through the same struggles that I was. I wasn’t alone.
When cancer tried to take everything away, Little Pink gave back. They gave me back my childhood, allowing me to momentarily forget. They gave me validation that my struggles were indeed real and that I wasn’t alone. They gave me hope that things could get better and eventually they did. My mom won her battle with cancer later that year and is now nine years in remission. I cannot thank Little Pink enough for helping my family through one of the hardest chapters of our lives; for giving us hope where there was none; for letting us know that we weren’t alone.
Now I am a senior in high school planning on going to college studying biology and ceramics. I don’t know where exactly my future will take me, but if Little Pink has taught me anything it’s that life goes on. With hope and resilience I will continue to write my story, unafraid and never alone. My hope is that someday I will have the opportunity to help someone as profoundly as Little Pink Houses of Hope has helped my family.