My mom is the strongest person I know

I learned early on that my mom is more fragile than most people. Radiation treatments she received as a teenager for stage III nasopharyngeal carcinoma — a type of throat cancer — left her much more vulnerable to head injuries. And if a bone were ever to break in her face, it most likely would never heal. My mom can get severe whiplash very easily, too, because she had so many muscles removed from her neck as part of salivary gland cancer treatment a few years ago. She has to use both hands just to lift her head up when she’s been lying down. But my mom is still the strongest person I know. Why my mom chose the riskier treatment My mom was only 17 the first time she was diagnosed with cancer, so I wasn’t around yet. But the second time, she was 49, and I was 22. I’d always heard stories about how brave she was, but I don’t think I really believed them until now. Once I understood the severity of her second cancer diagnosis, I was terrified. Because she’d already had cancer, treatment would be riskier. And this particular second cancer could only be treated with radiation. Normally, that wouldn’t be an issue, but it was for my mom. She’d already been irradiated in that same area, and doing so again could risk damaging an artery, causing her to bleed to death. The only other treatment option was a lengthy and very complicated surgery. My mom might not survive the procedure. But if she did, the doctors believed it would leave her cancer-free. She...

My mom is the strongest person I know

I learned early on that my mom is more fragile than most people. Radiation treatments she received as a teenager for stage III nasopharyngeal carcinoma — a type of throat cancer — left her much more vulnerable to head injuries. And if a bone were ever to break in her face, it most likely would never heal. My mom can get severe whiplash very easily, too, because she had so many muscles removed from her neck as part of salivary gland cancer treatment a few years ago. She has to use both hands just to lift her head up when she’s been lying down. But my mom is still the strongest person I know. Why my mom chose the riskier treatment My mom was only 17 the first time she was diagnosed with cancer, so I wasn’t around yet. But the second time, she was 49, and I was 22. I’d always heard stories about how brave she was, but I don’t think I really believed them until now. Once I understood the severity of her second cancer diagnosis, I was terrified. Because she’d already had cancer, treatment would be riskier. And this particular second cancer could only be treated with radiation. Normally, that wouldn’t be an issue, but it was for my mom. She’d already been irradiated in that same area, and doing so again could risk damaging an artery, causing her to bleed to death. The only other treatment option was a lengthy and very complicated surgery. My mom might not survive the procedure. But if she did, the doctors believed it would leave her cancer-free. She...