Little did I know, what I thought was going to be a routine call turned out to be a life-changing memory.

Cancer, chemo, surgery....death. The only words I could ponder the night that would forever change my outlook on life. It was 9:30 on a Thursday night and I was in Madison, Wisconsin, where I attended college. I had just finished dinner with some close family friends, Beth and Lenny. Beth mentioned that she had spoken to my mother before her trip, and thought we should call to say hello. I ecstatically dialed home to California. Little did I know, what I thought was going to be a routine call turned out to be a life-changing memory. I heard my mom's voice on the other end of the line, stuttering in nervousness. She said, "I've been diagnosed with breast cancer." Everything went blank. I started shaking, the phone dropped on the floor, and tears raced down my face faster than ever before. I could only ask, "why?" What's going to happen now? Is she going to live or die? What felt like a two minute conversation actually lasted an hour, yet I can only remember bits and pieces.

Soon was Thanksgiving break and I was finally going home. As I got off the plane I saw my mom's head peak out of the crowd. Hugging her was the most amazing feeling. I was so relieved to be by her side. I didn't realize I felt so lonely being far away.

I wasn't going to be there to hug her when she needed reassurance, but I realized I could be there for her in my own special way.

The time spent with my mom was really special, and my family's bond grew stronger. The only hard part of being home was waking up in the morning and realizing it was a day closer to my departure. It was painful to leave my mother, because the next step to her recovery was chemotherapy. I wasn't going to be there to hug her when she needed reassurance, but I realized I could be there for her in my own special way. I could call her to tell her I love her, listen to her feelings, and distract her from the cancer by simply telling her about my days. My voice was the stronghold supporting her even from this extreme distance.

Being far from my mother in her time of need was the hardest thing I had to do, but sticking it out and making the most of my life proved my strength. Watching the woman who took care of me become so frail and helpless from such a great distance has broken my heart, glued it together, and made it stronger.

My mother withstood a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. Six years have passed, and she is healthier than ever. I know she will be all right. Her lessons of strength have made me realize that while love does not heal all wounds, it does make them easier to deal with.

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