BCA: Personal Stories

Lauren Borden
(Jeanne's 16-year-old daughter)


On the evening of March 30, 1994, during my sophomore year of high school, I came home to an uncertainty. I remember it being a cold and crisp night, I was wet and shivering because I had just finished swim practice. As I walked in the door I had a feeling of emptiness, like something was wrong. I was right, my mother was in her room sobbing. She was outraged, confused and unable to explain to my sister and me what was wrong. Dreadful and appalling thoughts were shooting through her head, as if she was about to reach the end of her life any second. She wondered what she had done wrong. Finally she was able to calmly tell us that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

I felt a knife jab me in the chest and my jaw fell to the floor in shock. I was terrified and convinced that my mother was about to keel over and die within the next minute. When that did not happen, I realized that the process she had to go through was almost as bad. For instance, the chemotherapy she took altered her blood chemistry in order to kill the cancer cells, it also made her hair fall out; and she felt nauseated and sick frequently from the radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Our family hoped the medicine would kill the cancer before it killed my mom. Her personality changed because of all of this and we fought constantly, it seemed impossible for me to be near her without having an argument with her. The reality that she may die made me realize I needed to be compassionate towards her. No one can imagine what it is like to be constantly afraid of losing a parent. It feels like something is slipping through your fingers and you can't get a tight grip.

Eventually I learned to understand that everyone has problems; although, it was difficult since my parents are divorced and I live with my mother and sister. For example, money has always been a challenge for our family and it became worse with this dilemma. But no matter what, it seems like we always pulled through together.

From this hardship came many good additions to my life. I had to mature almost overnight. During the stage of my life between the ages of thirteen and sixteen, I lived my life carelessly and did not realize that if I wanted to accomplish something, I would have to work for it. After the diagnosis I became more independent and interested in new things. My time was much more well spent and I became a responsible and reliable person. I spent more quality time with my family and good friends. In addition, I found out who my real friends are, the ones that were there for me during those hard times. Even though my mother had a deadly disease and we fought all the time, I still feel this was a unique experience and I would not trade it for anything.

It has been a year and a half since that cold shivering night and now that all the trauma is over, I feel relieved. My mother is healthy and moving on with her life. Harmony has returned to our household and I am just happy that my mom is alive and well.