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OT-My daughter is graduating today, against the odds

annalexandria's picture
Posts: 2573
Joined: Oct 2011

Well, maybe it's not entirely off topic!  My middle child started high school the same week I had my first surgery. I had been sick, really, scary-sick, for months.  I went to the hospital via a 911 call, in agonizing pain, and completely missed her first day of school.  Two weeks later we learned I had cancer.  Because my sister had died four years previously, my kid had an understanding of cancer that not every young person has (thank goodness).  Her first year of hs was dominated by my illness...the terrible effects of treatment and surgery, recurrence, and the looming fear of my death.  Maybe not surprisingly, she failed a lot of classes that year, and spent a lot of time being angry and depressed.

We started her sophmore year in similar fashion, another trip to ER, another huge surgery, and the news of yet another recurrence, this one looking even more serious.  My kid...well, she just kind of crumbled.  She told me on many occasions that she simply didn't care about anything, that school held no meaning for her.  She couldn't see a future for herself, because there was a distinct chance that I wouldn't be in it.  One time she told me that she would kill herself if I died.  She failed more classes and it was looking more and more unlikely that she would graduate on time, if at all.

But then we got a break.  Two more recurrences, but both were small, didn't require so much hospital time.  I gave up on chemo, which wasn't the greatest of news at the time, but it did mean I felt better, and my daughter didn't have to see me suffer so much.  She started to do a little better in school and decided she was willing to put in the time outside of school to make up some credits.

She got to have me reasonably healthy and in a state of NED for half of her junior year and all of her senior year, and holy cow...what a difference that made!  She began to talk about what she might like to do in the future (marine biologist or dermatologist...say what?), and really buckled down at school.

She got straight As this year, while working part time.  She won a design contest for a pamplet she made in her marketing class.  She was voted "Most Changed" by her classmates (which she took as kind of an insult but it really was accurate).  I just got done cooking a graduation day breakfast for her and a friend this morning, and tonight I get to watch her walk to get her diploma.

Cancer tried its best to take down me, and by extension my family, but in this case, it failed.  No way to know what the future holds, but for tonight, I'm going to be happy and hopeful that cancer didn't manage to steal my daughter's future.

And here's a pic of her volunteering at an event at the YMCA.  That's not the face of a kid who has given up.           Lots o' love~AA


Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

What makes me really happy about this story is the fact that you were "dialed-in" to your children's needs and insecurities, even though you were undergoing your own personal trials.

Children do look towards their parents for many things....

What a turnaround!  And tonight, you celebrate a moment that you had wondered about....I'm so glad for you both...and may you have all the years there possibly are:)

You 'done' good, honey!

Thanks for sharing this story as I'm sure it will resonate with the other parents out there, who may have experienced something similar to what you described.  I think this could be a hotbed for good discussion - how children react and what they think and fear when their parents are in active treatment.

Anyway, just wonderful and enjoy your evening!

And I think I get which one is yours:) 

annalexandria's picture
Posts: 2573
Joined: Oct 2011

And yes, the "big one" is mine (although she would kill me if she heard me calling her big).

She did her Senior Project at the YMCA, working with kids.  Made that fishing game herself for their "Healthy Kids Day".

It's the kind of thing that she would have proclaimed "STUPID" a couple of years ago, so just one more sign that she is growing up.

And as I said to Wolfen, your taking the time to comment has extra special meaning to me, given all that you are facing.  Big hugs to you, my friend!

Posts: 1607
Joined: Aug 2012

Funny how Craig reads my mind..was going to start a post about this. Had a bad night and many tears with my 15 1/2 yr old last night. Cant wait for the school to be done. Your post really hit home AA and I am so happy for you that you can celebrate with your daughter. Enjoy the night and the excitement. Congrats!

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009


I'm sorry for your rough night, Jen...something about the nights that can make us all come unhinged...

YoVita's picture
Posts: 590
Joined: Mar 2010

Your daughter's expression says it all - such joy!  Congratulations to you both.  You're a great mom to have been there for her during your own serious struggles.  

Momof2plusteentwins's picture
Posts: 508
Joined: May 2012

I am so happy things are going great for you and your family. It is nice reading stories like this. I hpoe to make it to my twin boys graduation, they will be Juniors this year. Have a great night tonight!!!

wolfen's picture
Posts: 1329
Joined: Apr 2009


You can be proud that you have raised a true fighter, just like yourself. High schools is hard, even in the best of circumstances. She was travelling her own unknown road and trying to travel yours at the same time. She has shown the strength that you have instilled in her.

Please let her know that your CSN family will be right there in the audience cheering for her when she receives that diploma.



annalexandria's picture
Posts: 2573
Joined: Oct 2011

That you can take the time to write such a kind comment in the midst of your own sadness brought tears to my eyes.  I shared my thoughts on my daughter's experience here at CSN in part because of the people like you, who make this a special place.

annalexandria's picture
Posts: 2573
Joined: Oct 2011

You'll make it, Sandy!  And you've got one quite a bit younger too, don't you?  I've still got that almost-9 year old to see through high school.  We both have to make it (and then meet up for drinks afterwards).   Hugs from one mama to another.

Posts: 1170
Joined: Sep 2012

For some reason your post caused me start bawling. Not sure why. I guess I'm just so impressed with all you've overcome and so happy that you are able to enjoy this happy occasion. You're daughter looks like a great kid. Congratulations to you both. Enjoy the ceremony.


annalexandria's picture
Posts: 2573
Joined: Oct 2011

when I wrote it.  I think I decided to write this part of our life down simply because normally I try not to think too much about the hit my kids have taken from cancer.  This was my way of addressing it a bit before we went to graduation...didn't want to collapse in a weepy puddle.  Although I did anyway when the principal mentioned students who had turned themselves around and gone from "Ds to Bs" (although as Joanna pointed out, she went from Es to As, so there!).

The impact on our kids is the hardest part, by far.  Hugs to you, Chels

tachilders's picture
Posts: 313
Joined: Jun 2012

This makes me realize how much stress my daughter has probably been under this past year (freshman year of HS) and how lucky we are that she has done quite well (high honors). Luckily I have done very well so far with my treatments which may have helped but I truly thank you for opening my eyes on this. Only the best for your daughter and your whole family. 


Cathleen Mary
Posts: 827
Joined: May 2011


What a great kid!  What an amazing Mom!!!


Cathleen Mary

johnsnowden's picture
Posts: 20
Joined: May 2013

completely 'on'-topic!

beautifully wriiten, thank you so much for sharing.


maglets's picture
Posts: 2596
Joined: Jun 2006

this is such am important topic for so many of us.  My daughter lost her 4th year of university the year that I was diagnosed.  These poor kids go through such pain and such worry ......good for you for posting the topic AA

....your beautiful daughter.....her joyous face says so much.  Indeed wonderful mom wonderful daughter

thanks aa


Trubrit's picture
Posts: 5457
Joined: Jan 2013

What a wonderful blessing for you and your family. 

The picture is great also. I love pictures and think we need to take more. 

Congratulations to the both of you, and to those around you. 

barbebarb's picture
Posts: 464
Joined: Oct 2011

Thank you for sharing. This hit home with me having two young adults living with me.
Great accomplishment and enjoy celebrating.
My daughter has come around and finally started being supportive. My son has beared the stress of her attitude while dealing with my uncertainty with this illnesses twists and turns.
I am happy for you and your family!
Enjoy :-)
Love the picture, too.

AnnLouise's picture
Posts: 276
Joined: Mar 2013

Enjoy tonight and celebrate being a wonderful mom and having a daughter who definitely hasn't given up. 

It is so heartwarming and emotional to see them walking in their cap and gown.

Love the picture......you did a good job!     ~ Ann



lizdeli's picture
Posts: 570
Joined: Jul 2009

What a heartwarming story of love, from all angles!  You have to be beaming with pride!  What a beautiful gift she has given you!



Kathleen808's picture
Posts: 2361
Joined: Jan 2009

I celebrate with you my friend!   Your daughter is a strong woman (I think I know who she gets it from).  I just love that she is graduating and you are here to enjoy and celebrate with her.



wawaju04976's picture
Posts: 316
Joined: Dec 2012

I'm sure cancer, while being so very tough for her growing up, has taught her so many valuable lessons she will take  with her all her life. You have done a wonderful job raising her, given all the circumstances. Every negative, be it cancer, alcoholism, etc. can be an invaluable lesson for kids!!!

<3 Judy

annalexandria's picture
Posts: 2573
Joined: Oct 2011

and a good way of looking at things.  I try to think of it in terms of a piece of pottery that has to go through incredible heat to come out with a beautiful glaze...sometimes the hardest things in our lives can do the same for us as human beings.  I wish more than anything that my kids didn't have to have a mom with cancer, but I do think the experience has given them more depth and compassion than might be the norm for teenagers.

tanstaafl's picture
Posts: 1299
Joined: Oct 2010

Congratulations Ann. Your kids really need you.  Glad you can be there for them.  


Goldie1's picture
Posts: 264
Joined: Sep 2011

and smile, really made my day!  Congrats to all!


Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 6709
Joined: Feb 2009

Oh you have to be so proud.  What a beautiful daughter you have and a strong one at that.  She has seen much courage by her mother and has gained a lot of confidence from you also.  What an awesome day.


herdizziness's picture
Posts: 3642
Joined: Apr 2010

What a wonderful outcome, your child is so beautiful with that gorgeous smile and laughter in her eyes.

You must be so proud, and I know she is as well!!!  I bet you were just bursting with joy when she did the walk to get her diploma!

Just wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

Winter Marie

thxmiker's picture
Posts: 1282
Joined: Oct 2010

Tell your daughter Congrats, and the first of many victories and accomplishments in her life. 


Best Always,  mike


PS We are sending our thoughts and prayers that you can maintain the strength for yourself and your family. 

MaryCarol5's picture
Posts: 102
Joined: May 2013

Congratulations to you both! 

Thank you for sharing, Mary Carol

Miss Cindy L's picture
Miss Cindy L
Posts: 34
Joined: Dec 2011

This is really what cancer is about it is how we struggle to keep going and try to be a "normal" as possible for our families and loved ones. You have done a wonderful job with your daughter and the strength you have shown her will always be there in her heart and she will be able to draw upon that strength thruout her life as she needs too. I know this is true because I lost my mom to cancer at a very young age. Your post has made my day as well as others and I will remember it always. Blessings...love and health to you my friend!!

PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4912
Joined: May 2005

What a beautiful, moving story. 

We all know how difficult cancer is on US, and there are the Caregivers in our group who know hard it is on them as well as (mostly) grown children too but few, if any, children. I've always felt that it's harder on the others at times.

I'm so happy for you, your daughter, and your entire family! 


wawaju04976's picture
Posts: 316
Joined: Dec 2012

I'm having my colostomy reversed tomorrow, and I will take pics of the little bugger today. My 24 year old son could not understand why I would take pics of "Oscar." I told him when you think life is getting tough, or your kids are getting tough, pull out Oscar and remind yourself of the obstacle(s) your mom/grammie had to overcome. "Oscar" has been just one small piece of this long journey, but he was a rough one that I have overcome. I know your daughter has become the strong young lady she is today because of all of the experiences she has had, both negative and positive. Your (and her) cancer experiences have been a very big piece of her life, and she would not be who she is today if she had not had that experience!!!!!


Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Congratulations and thanks for posting (sniff, sniff).



Posts: 509
Joined: Sep 2012

Thank you for posting this story .... tears of joy for you both!  She is a fighter like her Mom ... and a beautiful young woman.  You have given her great strength and endurance.  Congrats to you both! This story has touched many lives ... the real challenges we face.


Posts: 370
Joined: Aug 2011

I have been meaning to respond to this posting.  It is so great to see your daughter doing well.  I can relate, although my daughter is older.  When I was first diagnosed, she had just passed her nursing boards and was moving an hour and a half away into an apartment, interviewing for jobs.  What should have been a happy, exciting time wasn't.  She did get a job and eventually thrived but not without tough times, professional help and medication.  I hated seeing her go through this.  Your daughter's story speaks of strength and resilience as does mine.  But it is tough stuff. 

To a bright future for our children.


annalexandria's picture
Posts: 2573
Joined: Oct 2011

it's really sad how our illness can be such a blight on our children's lives, making times that should be wonderful into something altogether different.  I'm glad to hear she's doing well now!

Posts: 308
Joined: Mar 2012

Congratulations! I'm thinking she has come thru this stronger and wiser!

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