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Surviving for Those Who Didnít - Choose
By Amelia Owen

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Cruelty or neglect did not leave Little Nurse alone at the hospital with her ill mother. Due to financial needs of the family and lack of childcare resources, the motherís hospital room was the best place for the little girl. And it was there Little Nurse wanted to be, with her mother, taking care of her. I know because I am Little Nurse. I was there for her through numerous reconstructive surgeries, her second battle with metastasized Stage IV cancer, and other surgeries that followed the devastation of the effects of the cancer treatments. Through junior high and high school, I watched her dynamic involvement in the "Look Good...Feel Better" program that helps others heal emotionally by improving self-esteem. The year after I graduated from college, I assisted my mother in establishing the first American Cancer Society Relay for Life in our hometown.  I watched my mother survive several attacks of cancer over and over, inspiring others to continue their battles, growing and exhibiting her faith in God. I learned what it means to be a fighter, to conquer, and to courageously take the blessing of life and use it to help others.

Although it broke my heart to see her in so much pain, I chose to be with her, support her, and encourage her through the toughest times of her life, just as she had done for me. We formed a bond most mothers and daughters never experience. We laughed, cried, yelled, and hugged a lot. Being able to care for my mother during her battles with cancer was the best experience of my life in that it made me the person I am today. By no means was it easy; but it was a choice I made at a very early age and it is one I will never regret.

Because of this privilege, I have a special place in my heart for cancer patients and their caregivers. I am currently working on my masterís degree in counseling, hoping to use my experience and training to provide psychosocial and emotional support for cancer patients and their caregivers. I am also a licensed massage therapist. I received National Certification for massage therapy so that I may provide therapeutic touch for those dealing with the effects of cancer, and someday work in research on the benefits of massage and psychotherapy for cancer patients and caregivers.

What seems to be a very tragic and traumatic event at the time can turn into something very positive. I was not damaged by being left alone with my mother in the hospital at a very young age during her recovery. I was not traumatized by observing the severe effects of the life-threatening disease of a loved one. I was not injured by being a witness to the battle of cancer. I was blessed. I had the opportunity to care for her the way she did for me when I needed her mostówhen I was weak and vulnerable and could not take care of myself. What better way to repay the person who gave me life.

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