“Dios mío, no puede ser (God, this can’t be),” said my mom, sobbing. Memories of all the moments I lived with my mom flashed through my head as my heart beat faster than a hummingbird’s wings, fearing those memories of my mother would be all I had.
I was 11 years old. My sister and I had just finished our homework and my mom had just got home from work. She had checked the mailbox, and I was preparing to translate all those complicated words to my mom. English isn’t her first language. I opened the first letter, a hospital letter, and the first thing that caught my eye was, “IMPORTANT MESSAGE, READ IMMEDIATELY.” My heart felt a cold wave hit. My mom had stage 3 cancer. I froze.
“¿Qué dice la carta? (What does it say?)” my mom asked impatiently.
“No se como decirle. (I don’t know how to tell you.)” I was 11 years old, trying to find the right words to explain to my mom what was going on inside of her body. My heart and mind knew, but I couldn’t accept it. My heart crumpled up like a piece of paper about to be tossed into the trash. I hugged my mom; I wanted to wake up from what I wished was a nightmare.
I knew there was no cure for cancer, but I also knew miracles exist. I wished one could come my way. After some stressful days and appointments, the doctors had told us only a miracle could save my mom. They were going to do as much as they could. I realized I had to prepare myself and my younger sister, and support and help my mom as much as I could. With work, treatment and not feeling well, she was stressed. I knew I had to step up.
Being a middle schooler, having a younger sister to look out for and finding out my mom could be taken away any day was hard. By the age of 12, I dropped my after-school activities, took care of my sister, cleaned the house, helped my sister with her homework and, of course, went to school. I was challenged to work harder and become more independent.
My mom is my hero and role model. It was just the three of us, so I had to grow up fast, take care of myself and my family. Most importantly, I had to make mom feel like she had someone by her side. Ultimately, this situation taught me how to value every second of life.
My mom always tells me to push forward, stay strong and become someone who can make a change in this world. I dream bigger now and am focused on becoming a doctor. I know I have to work hard and get good grades to be the person I want to be; my mom and our courageous experience inspire me every day.
I hope someday I will be able to show my mom how thankful I am for every sacrifice she’s made. Miraculously, she’s better now, and she will see me graduate high school, go to college and pursue my dreams. I will make her proud. The skills, compassion and example she’s brought to my life help me now; they will make me a better student at the University of Minnesota; and someday they’ll help me be a caring, capable doctor.