Columnist opens up about mother’s cancer diagnosis

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Caleb Severson, Staff Writer

Caleb Severson
Caleb Severson 

“Hey, come sit down, we need to talk.” 

I immediately circled through all the possible things I could be in trouble for. 

I hadn’t heard my parents use that tone since I was sent to the principal’s office in 7th grade. 

I sat down with no clue of what to expect. 

Then my mom spoke. 

“I have breast cancer,” she said.

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in every eight women will be diagnosed with this disease in their lifetime. 

The good news is that death rates linked to breast cancer have been on the decline since 1990 and with early detection, the five-year survival rate is 99%. 

But it is still estimated that over 41,000 women will die at the hands of breast cancer this year alone.

My mom got the call that she had breast cancer on a Friday afternoon, but life keeps moving. 

So we went to my younger brother Josiah’s football game that evening. 

As I walked through the campus of Dos Pueblos High School on my way to the stadium, I ran into Josiah as he headed into the locker room with his team. 

“Dude, are you ok?” I asked. 

“Dude, are you ok?” he asked back. 

We hugged for a minute, taking comfort in one another’s arms amidst the uncertainty that loomed. 

We exchanged “I love you’s” before he returned to his team and I went into the stands to find our parents. 

News of this magnitude affects everyone differently. 

Luckily there are some amazing counseling options and group therapy classes offered through Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for those who have been diagnosed with any form of cancer.

My mom was not shy about her diagnosis.  

Thanks to her openness, my family was blessed with an outpouring of support from the loving community around us. 

The day she had surgery to remove the cancer from her body we had dinner dropped off at our house. 

She was showered with gifts, cards, sweet text messages and even more dinners in the days to follow.  

The love my family received from our family friends, church family and local community has been incredible. 

A few weeks after my mom was diagnosed with cancer, a cold was going around our household. 

I went to take a drink of water out of a glass on the kitchen counter. 

Before I took a sip, I stopped to make sure it wasn’t contagious. 

“It’s mine,” my mom said. “Don’t worry, I’m not sick.” 

We both burst out laughing.

“Well actually, I am,” she continued. “But I just don’t feel like it.” 

Early detection can find cancerous cells well before any symptoms show up.

According to the American Cancer Society, women between the ages of 45 and 54 should go in for yearly mammograms. 

These annual screenings can catch cancer at its smallest form and prevent it from spreading throughout the body and causing even more harm. 

Thanks to early detection, my mom was able to have surgery and make a full recovery in a very timely manner. 

She is scheduled to begin radiation treatment in early 2020 and if all goes according to plan, she will be cancer-free before we know it. 

My mom was very comfortable with sharing her diagnosis, but she made it very clear that I did not have to share with anyone until I was ready. 

And for a long time, I was not ready. 

This fall semester was incredibly demanding. 

I rarely had a free moment. 

I didn’t have time to sit down and fully process what was going on.

I felt like verbalizing this reality only magnified the situation in my head. 

So I chose to stay quiet. 

I chose to refrain from sharing with virtually everyone. 

But writing this column allowed me to process what had happened. 

I’m comfortable sharing. 

I’m at peace.