I was in the 5th grade when I learned that my mom had breast cancer.
I couldn’t fully grasp what was going on at the time because I was so young. No one really explained it to me, but all I knew was cancer was bad because it made mommy and daddy sad. All the grownups kept a strong front, but I could still see the sadness in their faces. With financial problems, finding out my grandpa was diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer, and everything else going on, I didn’t want to add on to their problems, so I had to grow up.. fast.
I did everything I could to be a good kid. I got excellent grades and worked extra hard on my homework so mom didn’t have to help me anymore. I stopped playing outside after school with the neighbor kids so I could come home to tidy up. I made sure that everything was clean and organized all day, every day (reflecting now, I’m pretty sure that’s how my OCD started). I joined band in middle school and learned to play the clarinet because music made my mom happy. I never received detention or got in to any sort of trouble because I was a quiet kid and never talked back.
I did everything to make my mom happy because that’s what I believed would make her cancer go away. And hey, it worked. As of 2016 she has been cancer free for 10 years.