8 Things I Learned When My Mom Was Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

A year ago, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. And I think for a brief moment, my world stopped turning.

I have a whole new perspective on life now, and although I would never thank the cancer for this, I’ve learned things from this journey I wouldn’t have otherwise, and for that, I will always be grateful:

1. Positive thinking does wonders.

I was amazed at how my mom never let the cancer get her down. She tried to keep her daily routines as normal as possible, and never let the negative thoughts get to her. Once she set her mind to fighting the cancer, she never backed down. Sending out good vibes really does affect how you live your life.

2. Life is short.

It’s easy to say that these kinds of things happen to other people, but never to you. The truth, however, is that bad things can happen to anybody, but life is too short to let the possibility of it get in the way.

3. Mammograms and self-exams are so important.

My mom had been going in for yearly mammograms for a few years before she was diagnosed, but a lot of her friends tend to skip them. Her cancer was caught early, but if she had skipped that appointment, who knows what would’ve happened.

4. Everyone deals with hard times in their own way.

I kept to myself when my mom was diagnosed, only telling a few close friends. I didn’t understand why my brother was telling everyone or how my mom could be so open with her battle. Everyone experiences hard times differently, but what’s important is supporting each other in a way that’s best for them.

5. You learn who your real friends are.

My friends were always asking how my mom was, helping her when I wasn’t home, and just being there if I needed to talk. I became really close with a friend because his mother had been diagnosed about a year before, and I really don’t know where I’d be without his support and friendship.

6. You reevaluate your life.

When my mom was diagnosed, I considered staying home for a semester so I could be home to take care of her. It was my brother’s first semester at school, and I couldn’t ask him to miss out on that. My life was in another city, but if my mom needed me, I knew I would stay home in a heartbeat.

7. Courage.

My mother’s battle with cancer taught me everything I could ever want to know about bravery. She handled herself with a grace and strength that I can only hope to attain one day. Her fight—and every other cancer survivors’ fights—will continue to inspire me every day.

8. You can’t let the bad things define you.

Yes, my mother had cancer. No, she’s not just a statistic. She doesn’t dwell on her past or let it define who she is. She fought cancer and kicked it’s a*s, and she refused to let it run her life.