I lost my mother at a young age to breast cancer. I was just 13 and in eighth grade, a time that’s usually very exciting in a young girls life. Many great moments that year, I wished I shared with my mother—moments that were lost due to cancer.
Cancer became a chapter in my childhood. I remember how frightened I was that year, watching my mother—a beautiful, strong, witty & talented woman—become so fragile and ill. How upset she would get that she couldn’t eat her homemade lasagna or treat us to her famous deep dish pizza. Her dream job of decorating cakes for events was just too much work for her fragile body at that point. I watched my mother try to hide how upset she was when she started to lose her hair. I watched her talking on the phone for hours and hours with my aunts, while watching for any form of a smile on her face. I remember how she couldn’t go with me dress shopping for graduation, because the cancer made her weak and ill to her stomach. The smallest drive made her sick for hours. Even on a good day, how people would stare at her and whisper behind our backs as if she was spreading her cancer by just being around them? (1991 wasn’t quite as educated and understanding about the disease.)
I remember that cold winter day when she came home from the hospital and told me the cancer was back and this time she didn’t know if she would be able to fight it…how the spring of 1992 was spent inside her hospital room. I used to get out of school early and walk up to the hospital and sit with her until after dinner time. Friends would have to come and visit me at the hospital and not my home if they wanted to spend time with me. I remember the look on the nurses’ faces and how they tried, with smiles and small talk, to keep me from crying when I left her room each night and headed for home…how I would paint her nails, just so she would feel pretty.
I remember that summer day when my mother looked at me and cried because she didn’t know who I was or why I was holding her hand. Still to this day, I can’t try to explain that moment in my life.
I knew at that very moment I had lost my mother forever. Cancer had won the battle. Delores Ann Wente, age 39 years and 10 months, passed away the night of my 8th grade graduation. My wonderful, close-knit, supportive community kept it quiet for hours, so I could enjoy what was left of my childhood for that one special night. When the sun rose the next day, my world had changed forever. No child should ever have to feel or be forced to understand that kind emotion.
Taking the time to write this and looking back to that last year, the months of sickness, and the moment when I knew I had lost her forever…just brings back so many emotions I haven’t felt in years. I turn 37 this year. My chance of getting this horrible disease increases each year. Just the idea of my children having to go through any of those things scares me to tears. I never want my children to have to be without me for any period of time, let alone forever. No child should have their childhood interrupted because of cancer!! None.
This is why I walk!! I walk for the mothers, daughters, sons, sisters, cousins, husbands, aunts, uncles, sisters-in-laws and, mostly, all the children who have had to watch women struggle with this horrible cancer. I walk for them!! Please help me fight for them! Please support me as I take an amazing journey for women and men in the fight to end breast cancer! The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® is a 60-mile walk over the course of three days. Net proceeds help support research, scientific programs and community-based breast health and education programming breast cancer.