Guest Post by, Rose Thomas - She returns for a second guest post on Words By Mara to share the story of losing her mom to breast cancer. The month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness month – which has affected many of us on a personal level. Read Rose’s story of loss and hope.
“Linda Sue Thomas was an inspiration to everyone around,” at least this is what people tell me about my mother because I do not really remember much about her because she died when I was almost 10 years old.
I do remember that she was a stay-at-home mom because she did not have a job like other children’s mothers. She decided to give up the American dream of a two-income family that would help provide two cars and a new house in order to be with me every second of the day. She was always there for me to help me throughout my childhood problems from helping me up and caring for my scrapes and bruises after falling down our hilly, brick-paved, driveway for the tenth time to drying me off after I finished playing in the winding stream or drizzling waterfall that ran through our eight acres. She was also always there to try to keep her mischievous, tomboy, baby girl from getting into more trouble.
My mom always made certain that God was my number one priority. She sacrificed her wants and needs for me to go to outstanding Christian schools, and she also made sure that I was in church every time the doors were open. She instilled in me to know the difference from right and wrong, and encouraged me to be the best Christian I could be for God.
When I was growing up, my older sister played with me, and I considered her my “bestest friend in the whole wide world.” But soon she had had enough of my childish games and was ready to start her adult life because she moved out of my parents’ home when I was five years old. My mother became my best friend then, because unlike most children I grew up in the country where our nearest neighbor was three miles away, and they had no children my age. My mother was my playmate, my confidant and also my classmate and my teacher because I was also home schooled by her during my kindergarten and first grade years. She wanted to continue the tradition of home schooling that she started with my sister but after first grade she knew something was physically wrong with her so she decided to discontinue the home schooling.
In 1985, the doctors told my loving, dear mother that she had breast cancer. I was six years old at the time so I did not really understand what was going on. I believe God helped the pain from the cancer because many people prayed for her, and I do not believe she would have lived as long as she did if God had not helped her. She refused to have chemotherapy, whether it was pride because she did not want to lose her hair or whether she was just trying to protect me from realizing how sick she was. However, this changed when Dad helped her remove the bandages as I looked on at where once a breast had been, but all that remained was a very small, bruised, scar.
After she regained some of her strength, she started hauling me with her as she browsed tons of health food stores. She also started eating very healthy, from popping beta-carotene vitamins to eating dried apricot seeds. I did not realize it at the time, but she was doing her best to survive and see her little girl grow into an adult.
As I moved from first to third grade (I skipped a grade), I noticed that my mom was still active, but she was getting weaker. She stayed inside more rather than playing with me outside like she used to, but maybe this was because she and Dad just bought and moved a house from Dothan, AL, to where we lived, and she had to help remodel and try to make the house livable.
She and Dad were never able to complete our new home because Mom fell sick again as I started fourth grade. She went back to the doctor, and her medical team performed numerous tests, and they discovered the cancer had moved to her lungs. She still refused to have any form of chemotherapy even though the pain was unbearable at times as the cancer continued to spread and erode her lungs so that breathing became nearly impossible at times.
During one of her many stays at the hospital, about six months before the end of her life, I remember getting chicken pox and this is the longest time that I was away from my mom, and this is when I started realizing how sick she really was because I was not allowed to see her for about three to four weeks because the doctors did not know if she had ever had chicken pox so they did not want to expose her or other patients to it. I remember being so scared that I would never see my mom again during this time. After I recovered, I noticed that she continued getting weaker, but the thought of death never crossed my mind because a nine year old child is not supposed to outlive her mother.
My Aunt Sandra (my mom’s sister) came up from Miami, Florida, to be with us toward the end so she could help cook, clean, take care of Dad and me and to be a comfort to Mom. On October 4, 1988, nineteen days before my birthday, my dad and Aunt Sandra came and checked me out of school and somehow I knew something was terribly wrong. As soon as I saw both of them they told me that my mom had passed away that morning, I fell down on the floor and broke out into loud, uncontrollable sobs. Dad lifted me up into his arms and took me to the waiting car and after this is a blur. The next thing I remember Dad, Aunt Sandra and me going to my sister’s mobile home (next door to our house) to tell her of the sad news. She got into the car, and we embraced and cried all of the way to the funeral home to pick out the casket and take care of the other preparations for burial. What is ironic to me is that October is now Breast Cancer Awareness month, the month my mom died.
So many people close to me have died that I cannot seem to separate the actual funerals in my mind, but the one thing I do remember about my Mom’s funeral is that tons of people admired and respected her because hundreds showed up for her funeral to show their respect for her and our family because her life was an inspiration to many.
Rose is a writer working for RMA Texas in San Antonio, TX. She has an adventuresome outlook on life and thinks that she can survive anything life throws her way. She graduated from Troy University with a Bachelor of Science in journalism/business. In her spare time, she enjoys international travel, scuba diving, kayaking, hiking and anything else that involves getting her feet dirty or wet.
*Image taken from NationalBreastCancer.org