Sometimes Just Being There Is the Best Medicine

The Best Medicine

Sometimes Just Being There Is the Best Medicine

My best advice for supporting a loved one with cancer.

Published October 6, 2015

I was 14 when my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. That was over 10 years ago, and what I remember most is feeling scared, which is kind of crazy because if anyone should have been scared, it was her. I don’t think I showed just how terrified I was though. The rest of us needed to be the strong ones.

|SEE MORE: 7 WAYS TO SUPPORT BREAST CANCER RESEARCH (AND PATIENTS)|

My grandmother has always been religious about doctor visits, scheduling check-ups for her and my grandfather, both who have a pretty good health history. So, her doctor caught the cancer early and that was the good news. But in order to rid her of the cancer, the doc suggested a mastectomy.

“Wow, this is serious.” They wanted to remove her breasts and reconstruct them with other tissue. Just using the words breasts and reconstruct in the same sentence gives me the heebie jeebies. Three weeks later, my grandmother had the procedure, which included a tummy tuck (that’s where they pulled the reconstructive tissue from).

And to be extra safe, the doctors also recommended chemotherapy. Chemo sucks like everyone says. It left my grandma feeling weak and drained. She was a pro at handling it, though, even when she lost her hair, deciding on a cute buzz cut and stylish short wigs.

Lots of recovery time and many checkups later, she was in remission. My grandfather retired shortly after and they bought their dream house in Puerto Rico with a mango tree in their backyard. Today, she's still in remission.

My grandma has always been the caregiver of our family — babysitting me while my mom worked, waking up at 5 a.m. to make my grandfather, a bus driver, breakfast before he left for work, doing our laundry, making cookies, taking me shopping...the list goes on.

She's a hard worker, my role model and the strongest person I know. So, taking care of her every step of the way was an easy choice. You don’t realize that one day you’ll end up taking care of the people that used to take care of you. I was only a kid when she was diagnosed, but I like to think that just my being there helped, even if it was in the smallest way.

It’s a lesson that I still need to be reminded of today.

#CheckMoreFearLess — Watch a breast cancer survivor story below!

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(Photo: Cadalpe/Image Source/Corbis)

Written by Jazmine A. Ortiz

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