When Mom Had Cancer

Leslie Mouton’s daughter recalls her mom’s battle against breast cancer

Selfie of Leslie and Nicole
Selfie of Leslie and Nicole (KSAT)

By: Nicole Mattox

I was only 2 years old when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I was so young I wasn't sure what it meant.

I have vague memories of lots of phone calls, visitors and a scary feeling that something wasn't right.

I remember visiting her in the hospital after surgery, and the days after chemo that she would spend in bed. Dad would tell me that mom wasn't feeling well and she needed her rest.

I can remember pretending to be her doctor when she was sick in bed. I loved going in to check her heart with my toy stethoscope, bringing her popsicles and giving her kisses, telling her I loved her.

When her hair fell out, she made it a game. She let me pull it out in handfuls and laughed with me about it. She made sure it didn't scare me to see her bald, she made it seem normal, as if all moms lost their hair! We even had a big party, shaved her head and dad's too! I remember thinking it was fun! But that's my mom! I didn't understand it at the time, but mom's cancer experience was one of her first lessons to me about how to handle difficulties in life.

Her cancer experience taught me to face life's challenges head on, with a positive attitude and always look for the good in what you have. My whole life, I have watched my mom share her story, embrace others as they battle cancer and donate her time and energy to raising awareness and money to treat those with breast cancer. For as long as I can remember I have attended races, galas, and breast cancer events across the country. My mother has taught me that giving is the best way to receive blessings in life.

I didn't realize when she was actually battling cancer how serious it was or the fact that I could actually lose her. I think about all the kids who aren't as lucky as me to still have their mom around, and thank God that she beat it. I couldn't imagine a life without my mom and just thinking about the horrible trauma she went through with cancer makes me treasure the time I'm able to have with her even more.

My mom fought cancer with dignity, courage and beauty. She wasn't scared to show the true - bald - side of cancer. She has taught me the importance of putting others before yourself and to treasure every minute of life because it can all be over so fast and unexpectedly.

It's the journey, not the finish line that matters.

I hope in my life, I can appreciate the journey as much as she does, whatever it may bring.