As we grow up, our parents are always there for us. As the years go by, we get older and find that the tables turn. We may need to take care of our parents as they took care of us. You all might remember Maria E. Montes, Woman Who Knows for the month of October. She’s going through that very situation and would like to share her experience with you in a series called “A Daughter’s Journey With Her Mom.” Today, she is sharing with you the beginning of a very difficult situation for her family. Please read below and follow in this journey to show her your support.
A Daughter’s Journey With Her Mom by Maria E. Montes
In 2010, my mom and I went through battling breast cancer together. I was first diagnosed with it at the age of 50. After I finished my treatment, a lump was discovered in my mom’s right breast at the age of 82. She had Stage 3 cancer and lost her right breast but to date, we have both been breast cancer free.
Seven years later, cancer has struck my mom again. In May 2017, we went to the doctor because she was having some stomach pain. After having an Ultrasound, a CT scan with contrast, an endoscopy and an endoscopy with contrast, it was confirmed – she had stomach cancer.
My mom lives with me, so trying to stay positive and let her not see my sadness has been difficult. When I cry, I do it at work, in the shower, in my bedroom, and with my husband. Growing up as the oldest daughter, I have seen what my mother has gone through first hand. She was born in La Paz, Bolivia and came to this country with the family of the Ambassador of Bolivia. She first lived in Queens and then moved to Manhattan. She loved to see the sights and spent her time exploring. When she came to this country, there were not many people who spoke Spanish but she always found a way to communicate with people. Mom also discovered that there were many different forms of the Spanish language. Wanting her independence, she worked and had her own place. My mother loved to sew and got a job at a factory sewing clothes. At some point, she met my father. Two daughters later, they split up. Her first priority was always providing for her daughters and not depending on help from our father. She worked hard and sent us to Catholic school because again, she wanted us to get a good education. She always made it possible for us to see my father. My mother believed that once we became adults, it would be up to us if we wanted to continue to see him and maintain a relationship with him. It was not going to be because of her if we didn’t have one with him.
Growing up, our weekly routine consisted of school during the week. On Saturday’s it was grocery shopping, cleaning, and laundry. Sundays were the days we went out. It was either the movies, shows in Radio City Music Hall, going to the zoo, events at Central Park, or bus trips to places since we didn’t have a car. When I look back, it really is amazing that not knowing the English language did not stop her in what she wanted to do. She wanted us to see what was out there and that life is not just in your neighborhood. Mom wanted us to get an education, get a job, get married, and have children. She also believed that if we got married and our husband turned out to be a bum, you kick him to the curb and you work and raise your children on your own. She wanted us to be independent if needed and not stay with a man that we would have to support. How many mothers thought that way back then? Not many. That always amazes me when I think about it. She loves happy party/dance music. I remember her favorite group was the Village People and her favorite song was Macho Man. Mom also loved listening to Barry White and the Spanish singers Raphael and Sandro. I guess I get my love for music and dancing from my mom!
If it wasn’t for her health, she would still be living on her own. It was hard to convince her to give up her place to first move in with my sister and then have her come live with me. That was about 4 years ago. She had diabetes but since changing her eating habits (which was not easy!) she is no longer considered a diabetic. Growing up mom had asthma due to smoke inhalation many, many years ago. I remember heading to the hospital with her when she had problems breathing and then seeing her later on when they were able to get it under control. I always made sure she had her asthma pump with her or nearby. It was a long process but this too she learned to get under control and it has been at least 14 years since she has had any kind of an asthma attack.
Her first chemo treatment is scheduled for July 6th. A new journey with my mom is about to begin. I will keep everyone posted.