Celebrating My Endo-versary and My Mom's Surgery

10:00 AM

Today marks one year since I was diagnosed with endometriosis. At 24 years old, I finally got an answer after 13 years of searching for a reason behind my myriad of painful symptoms.

The past year - to say the least - has been an adventureEndometriosis has involved a lot of wiping the slate clean and starting over, even if I did that just two days prior. It's been taxing and, at times, infuriating work. It's taught me a lot about myself, my body and other people. But it's been incredibly rewarding in the strangest ways.

On my endo-versary this year, I'm in a hospital again. But not for myself. As I may have mentioned a few times in my writings, my mom has been fighting cancer for the past five years, and she had a major surgery this week to help with her treatment. (She's doing great and should be leaving the hospital in a few days, so yay!)

It's been an emotional six days for me as I drove back and forth from my parents' house to the hospital, worked remotely from my mom's room and comforted her through her excruciating pain and maddening recovery. I've held her hand in the ICU, celebrated with her when she was able to walk without a walker and laughed with her when we've found humor in exasperating hospital situations. I've also fallen asleep on a lot of hospital furniture in uncomfortable positions and shrieked "PUPPY!!!" when I saw a therapy dog...

Cover model for Hospital Fashion: December Issue
I'm awestruck that less than a week ago, I had to hold back tears and panic in the ICU while looking down at my mom and best friend, rattled with pain and clouded by medications just hours after her surgery. Now she's clawing at the walls to get out of the hospital and be allowed to eat solid food.

Sickness has always been a part of my life in some shape or form. Cancer is practically a member of our family since my mom was first diagnosed and later went into remission when I was 12 years old. While it certainly forced me to take a more serious look at life than I think I was ready to at such a young age, it also taught me one big thing: resilience.

My mom is the picture of resilience. Even as she struggled to get out of bed and move just a few feet the other day, she never once complained, demanded or blamed. Her cancer journey and surgery recovery have always been about improving herself and getting better, rather than dwelling on what made her sick in the first place.

It's so easy to get bogged down and feel depressed about sickness, especially when it is life-threatening like cancer. But my mother has always faced adversity with grace, resolve and determination. So when I was diagnosed with my own illness, I had the perfect role model for how to manage it.

She never says "can't." She doesn't count herself out because of her sickness. She celebrates little victories, like a piece of gum after five days of not eating anything because of surgery. She uses her story to educate, inspire and encourage others. She finds humor in the bleakness. She is realistic but always hopeful. She never lets cancer get the best of her, even when it's overwhelming. She is not a victim, but a conqueror.

And when my own pain and symptoms wear me down, she's there to comfort me, even though my illness is just a tiny little splinter compared to the giant, twisted tree that is hers.

I wouldn't be writing this blog if it weren't for my mom. She has taught me to flourish in spite of my circumstances. We've both faced our own assortment of painful experiences, and her resolve has always given me strength and shown me that I can handle whatever is in my way.

So today, I'm dedicating my endo-versary to my mom. And I'm going to spend another day at the hospital with her and giving back what she's given to me. Because without her, I wouldn't be half the person I am today, and I certainly wouldn't feel as good as I do, in spite of my endometriosis.

In closing, here is a picture of the therapy dog that visited my mom and me. Have a wonderful day.

She's like a Big Juno!

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