Posted on March 12, 2015 by Allison Denenberg
About a month before my sister started high school and I began my freshman year of college, we found out that our mom had cancer. We were heartbroken and afraid, but also shocked and confused. How could something like this happen to our mom? She was so healthy. So alive. So kind. So undeserving of such a diagnosis. We feared that we were going to lose her, and we didn’t know what to do.
For months, we watched her undergo intensive chemotherapy treatments. She became frail and fatigued, but never stopped smiling. She constantly reassured us that she was fine, and that everything would be okay. Our mom was a ray of positivity and hope through one of the darkest times of our lives.
My sister and I learned a lot as a result of our mom’s illness. For one, it taught us not to sweat the small stuff. Failing a test, not getting the lead role in the play, being rejected from your top choice internship – these disappointments barely scratch the surface of the sadness and hopelessness that you feel when someone you love is sick and there is nothing you can do to heal them.
It has also taught us to be more appreciative of the good things in life, both big and small. A sunrise, the excitement of a first date, spending time with those you love – these are the things worth focusing on. It isn’t healthy to dwell on the negatives, because in doing so, you might overlook something wonderful.
While I never would have wished our mom to go through such an ordeal, there was definitely value in the experience. Watching her take on her illness with such positivity and grace was inspiring – and I was astonished at how her strength influenced my sister’s (and my own).
Now that our mom is better, we have all gained some peace of mind. But in her illness, we gained perspective.
Photography and Text by Allison Denenberg, Copyright 2015
About the Author: Allison Denenberg is a senior enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2015.