My Mom, Coronavirus & Me


photo courtesy of Emily Simons

Emily Simons and her mom, who has stage IV breast cancer

Emily Simons

COVID-19 sucks; there is no other way to say it. The school year was cut short, and now seniors most likely won’t get a traditional graduation, which we have been looking forward to since the first day we all came together freshman year. Senior year has not turned out the way that we were expecting it to go, and on top of this I live with someone with a compromised immune system. 

If I were to ask you who has been the biggest positive influence in your life, who would you choose? My answer has and always will be my mother. I grew up with a near perfect life. My mom was always there, and we had an ideal mother daughter relationship. My father has always worked very hard to provide everything for us, and I have always been very grateful.

Seven years ago, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, which ended up metastasizing to her brain. The cancer never scared me, because my mom never acted like it was a big deal. She would get chemotherapy every other week and was on loads of medicine, but none of that ever dampened her attitude or spirit. 

Over the past year, the little bubble I was living in popped and everything was thrown upside down. After having a seventh brain surgery, my mom contracted spinal meningitis. This led to many near death experiences and a two month-long hospital stay up at the University of Washington hospital in Seattle. Finally, after recovering, my mom began to regain her energy and lovely spirit. 

In December, she was put on a new drug to combat her inoperable tumors, but that scrambled her brain. One day my grandma asked her who I was and she responded with  “I don’t know” and a giggle. I have been living with the ghost of who my mom was before. Yes, her body is here, but that personality and compassion that could brighten my day by just looking at her is gone. Every day I look at her and hope that she isn’t trapped somewhere inside of herself and struggling to come out of the fog she is in.  I am currently living out my biggest fear while also trying to finish my senior year and experience things that are supposed to be amazing like getting into college and graduating high school. 

Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, things have gotten a bit more stressful. Yes, it sucks that your trip got cancelled and school is cancelled, both of which are valid, but that isn’t top of mind for me right now. I am scared that if I come in contact with COVID-19, I could give it to my mom, which would speed up her decay. The ability to stay home and reduce the chances of being exposed or contracting COVID-19 have been a total stress reliever in my household. But a loss has been the ability to get away from the house for a while and go have fun with friends. Before the stay-at-home orders, it was so easy to slip away from reality, but now I’m faced with it from when I wake up to when I go to sleep. 

I think it is very important that as someone who might not be heavily affected by the coronavirus symptoms, that you still are aware of the people around you and what they are going through. Make sure that you are washing your hands and trying to minimize the effects of this pandemic by staying home and making trips out as limited as possible. It is not fun, and I understand that, but it will be over sooner if you do your part and support your community. It is hard on everyone, in different ways.