Friday, January 19, 2018

The Fight to Win a Battle We Never Invited In.


There's a time and a season for everything.
It always comes to pass and not to stay.
I'm thankful for that, except when the stormy seasons come. That can consume you. Blowing you off your feet. Turning everything upside down in an instant.



Fall break was around the corner. I was ready to not have to go to school. I was tired of being a liar,when I skipped school. 
Things will always catch up to you even if you think you've gotten away with it. 
The school caught me skipping out one day and that next day, I was called into the office. They let me in on the fact they knew I hadn't done this just once, but 3X. The principal didn't like me as it was. He threatened to have my mom in trouble with truancy board. I begged him not to do that because she had no idea I had even skipped school once. So he decided I had to serve the last three days in alternative school in a town almost 30 minutes away. I knew that was better than my mom facing truancy board but she left for work hours before school started and could not get me there. 
I had to confess to her what I had done..
I told her minor details of the skipping.
She was really mad. I promised her I would find a way to alternative school each day. 
The girl who drove and skipped with me was also caught and serving the same days with me. 
I did find rides. Chris and mom the one day and Chris's mom picked me up. I was embarrassed that her son's new girlfriend was in trouble and needed her to help with my consequences.
That would be one of many things she helped me with.. 
Alternative school was extremely quiet and boring. 
They served us lunch but it was basically left over from the neighboring school and was ice cold. Gag!!
I finished all my work and had 6 hours left to sit and face a wall in a cubby hole. I decided I'd take advantage of my time and write. I always loved writing. My creative writing class was my favorite and I excelled in it. I wrote three stories and wrote to Chris as if I was in jail. Knowing I'd see him the same day... I was in love and everything was new and dramatic.😁😍
The last day of the time serving for getting caught, I would be on official fall break for two weeks. I had a hundred plans. 
I decided I would help Mom out while she worked and I was home. I cleaned the house and did laundry for her. Something I should have been doing the whole time. 
I cooked a few times. Chris would come over and have supper with her and I. All was going well...


One day I was sitting In the back seat of mom's 2007 suzki car ,that she loved so much.
She was driving and a family member was riding up front, beside mom.
I was lost in my thoughts and planning when my thoughts were interrupted by mom saying
" You know, I've felt a place, a lump on my breast. But I'm sure it's a cyst".
Family member says " oh. You should have that checked"
It was October and something I would later know too well, October is breast cancer awareness month.
I piped up and asked what they were talking about.
Mom said " it's nothing honey, I will make an appointment and show you it's nothing".
I thought' what's nothing'?!
Once home, mom made an appointment to have something called a mammogram later that week.
I asked her what that was and she explained.
I asked her what would a lump on her Breast even mean?
She said " well, I know it's nothing to worry with, but if something is found,they'll test it and see if it's something to be concerned about".
What would be concerning about a lump?
I was confused.
Mom was invincible to me. She would live forever.
She survived so much and nothing was going to take her from me. I decided that right then and there. Mom went to the appointment and came home. She said she would know more in a few days. I proceeded with life. I was with Chris. Some days drinking, some days pills. Other days both and few nothing. Having a blast. Making memories. I kept the house clean so mom wouldn't have to work all day then come and work in the house. She enjoyed that. 
Chris would come over here and there. He worked and couldn't spend every waking moment with me. I somewhat understood that.
The week school started back, I went all but one day that week. The day I decided I was staying home was the day my life went from good to terrible. Mom had seemed down the past week. She never told me why. Or said if anything was wrong. She would randomly come to my room telling me how she loves me and believed Chris was right for me. As a moody teenager, I rolled my eyes and wouldn't give her much time. 
I woke up that morning feeling like something was just wrong. I had suppressed the feeling of something happening to mom for years but that morning,those feelings came back and overwhelmed me. I felt a sense of dread. Mom usually called the house 5X throughout the day. But this day, she called me once. She said for me to be home that evening when she got home and for me to not go anywhere. 
That didn't help the dreaded feeling I had. I agreed. I took a shower and started praying out loud. 
I said " Lord, I don't understand why I'm feeling this way. I'm scared and have no clue why. Things are going well with Chris but I'm already falling for him. If he and I aren't meant to be, please end it now. My mom's phone call is freaking me out. Please let her be ok".
That day drug on and on. I knew what time she usually came home. So when she didn't, I panicked. I cried and started calling her. She wouldn't answer. I knew she had had an accident and wasn't coming home. I knew something bad had happened.
A family member called me and she says " have you talked to Mom"?
I said " no! And I am freaking out"!
She sounded like she was crying. I asked her to tell me what happened. She said 
" Mom will be home soon to talk to you".
Well. Thank God she's alive. I thought.
Now a whole new set of fears came flooding in.
I suddenly remembered that she had went to that appointment and was awaiting the call to see if they found anything on her mammogram. I then remembered that it had been weeks since that.
I called Chris and he wasn't home. I needed him but he wasn't around. I paced the floor. It was way passed time for Mom to be home. I became frustrated. ' what the hell is going and and why hasn't anyone called me'!?
Just then, family member walked in. 
Why were they here!?
Where's mom!?
After about four family members came in, in walks my mom.
I ran to her asking what's going on!?!
She told me to wait until everyone came inside...
What the hell!?
Talk about panicked.
Once everyone that was there sat down, I scanned their faces. Some were crying. Everyone somber. 
Mom sat me down on the couch and grabbed my hands into hers.
Looked me right in my eyes and said" Tiffany,honey. The mammogram showed something in my left Breast and lymph nodes. I went in for a biopsy and the results came today. It's cancer, honey".
Tears in her eyes. My ears started ringing. 
' what did you say Mama"!?
She said " I have breast cancer".
I literally thought I was going to pass out. 
Some family were staring at me. Others were in the kitchen crying. I looked at my mom and said 
" NO, the test and biopsy is wrong"!
She grabbed me as I starting crying so loudly,I couldn't hear anything else. She said
" Tiffany,baby, it's going to be ok. I am going to be ok. I am going to fight this. We are going to be okay"
I now felt like I was going to vomit. Family started talking but I heard nothing but my mom's words from a moment ago.
' I have breast cancer'
Anger set in and I yelled " why are they all here!?"
" Why didn't you call me"!?
It's a blur after that. 
Everyone eventually left. 
Mom was on the phone talking to other family members and repeating those horrific words all over again..
I felt like my heart had been ripped out and trampled on. My mom has cancer. She didn't smoke. Didn't use drugs. Didn't drink more than a few glasses of wine per year. Why her!?!!
She survived 52, almost 53 years of crap to now have to go through this!!?
She finally hung up the phone. Washed her face, took a breath and sat down with me again. 
She smiled and said " you know, I will be ok. I have Jesus. No matter what, I have Jesus and it will be okay. "
She started explaining what type of cancer and the possible stage she was in. These were terms I'd never heard except from on TV. Because this type of nightmare doesn't happen to us, just on TV.
She told me her first oncologist appointment was the next week and she would know more and start a treatment plan. I told her " I AM going with you. I don't care about school. I'm going. Don't try and stop me"!
And I meant it .
I wasn't leaving her side. We were going to beat this monster called cancer and I would do anything to make sure she was ok.
I slept in her bed that night. Since dating Chris and being in our new home, I has slept in MY own bed 
But I was sleeping by her every night. 
The next while is a huge blur. Mom still went to work and was happy. Never complained.. 
The world was still spinning. Mine had changed and nearly stopped.
I couldn't focus. I had Chris and that was one positive thing I could cling too. 

School was overwhelming even moreso. I would not be able to attend mom's appointments and they were important. I needed to know about this killer that was inside of my precious mother.
I took it upon myself to take mom's mammogram X-ray Thing to school and show my princaple. I asked him to meet with me in his office later that day. He agreed. I told him I wasn't making excuses anymore and I couldn't do this whole high school thing any longer. He looked at me with a confused smirk on his face. He said " may I ask why"?
Sure Mr.
I handed over the Manila envelope with mom's scan in it. I told him to put it up to the light. 
He asked what it was. I told him my mom had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and was in the beginning stage of doctor appointments and she worked and I needed to help her. I'm all she had and I needed to be with her. School got in the way of that. I told him I wanted to drop out at age 15...... Yes. I was that bold. 

Silence filled his office. He asked to meet my mom and he would then give me his decision. I told him " here's the thing. Mom isn't selfish. She will not ask for help and she sure wouldn't want me to quit school to stay home and help her and go everywhere she needs. She would be opposed to the idea and I didn't have time to argue my case. "
More silence.
He settled on calling her to verify she has cancer. Once they hung up, he took my file out, put it one paper at a time, into his shredder. He had tears in his eyes. He said " Miss Riggs, you've given me a hard time since moving here, and you've not been easy to handle. However. I'm a Christ follower and I believe you're barring your soul. Your mom does need you. This is an incredible amount of maturity and love with strength on your end. We never had this conversation. I'll be praying for you and your mom. Spend every day with her. You may leave at 2:55pm today. Records are gone"
I was crying and he left me in his office alone to compose myself. 
I don't know how paperwork like that works but I know he shredded them and I've never heard a word from anyone there. 
My classmates in creative writing class did write me and Mom letters but that's the last I heard. I walked out of school that day never to return. Off record with no one in trouble. 
My focus was saving my mom. 
I told her what Happened at school that night. 
I told her there was no use in her arguing about it. It was done and I was free and would help her from then on...
She smiled and hugged me.
That next week was full of appointments and information..
This season of our life wasn't welcomed. We never asked for it. We faced it head on... 
Clinging to each other and Jesus.
We sure would need Him more and more as time passed...
You don't know how strong you must be until being strong is the only option you have....
This was the beginning of many ends. 
I was never the same girl. Mom was promoted to a fight for her life and I knew I was going to find a way to save her. I had too. 
And I tried...