More Than a Hero: My Mom’s Cancer Doctor Made It Possible For Her to Watch Me Grow Up

Metastatic Breast Cancer Heroes™CURE® Metastatic Breast Cancer Heroes™ 2021 Essay Book
Volume 1

When I first learned about my mom’s breast cancer, I was just a toddler — but thanks to her incredible oncologist, my mom is here to see to me grow up.

When my mother was told she has cancer, I didn’t understand. I was a toddler. The only things I saw were the pipes coming out of Mommy, the white clip-thingy on her finger and an oxygen tube sticking into her nose. I saw people in crisp, white coats with that weird head-plug-necklace-thingy around their necks who spoke in very serious voices, clear orange pill jars, blue scratchy gowns and so many papers with boxes and lines and unintelligible words I couldn’t read yet. I didn’t understand what was happening, but everyone else did.

Dr. Vicente Valero. Photo provided by MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Dr. Vicente Valero. Photo provided by MD Anderson Cancer Center.

As the days went on, my mom seemed to get better. My family moved to sunny Del Mar, California, where there were these things called beaches and oceans and sunburns! Some people would take pointy-boards and ride the waves. I would kick the ripples and yelp with joy and fear as the salty water rode down my throat. I winced as the bright sunbeams pummeled my eyes. But Mommy’s cancer came back, and she had to go to Houston again. This is what happened to my family and me eight years ago.

No one in my family was a medical professional, and this mysterious, growing and death- bringing disease didn’t have a cure yet. We could only look to the doctors, pray and hope that things would soon be all right. Most doctors said she might have two years, but Dr. Valero was different. He had faith and hope in my mom that she could get better. And his new perspective gave a purpose in our lives. It gave us a reason to breathe, a reason to keep on living the next few hours without being overwhelmed by fear.

From left: Minchi Kim and Angelina Kim. Photo by Jenny Siegwart.

From left: Minchi Kim and Angelina Kim. Photo by Jenny Siegwart.

Then the next few hours turned into the next days, weeks, months and years. It is a miracle that my mom is still with us. But sometimes I wonder, what if she were given two years to live and everyone in my family saw no light at the end of the tunnel? What if there were no amazing doctors who believed my mother could survive her battle against cancer? What if there were no Dr. Valero, who gave my mother lifesaving medicine and encouraged her through the fight?

Our world today is like an unfinished puzzle. There are people suffering in this world, those who are dying from diseases like cancer or losing faith that there is a purpose to their lives. Will you give up on finishing the puzzle or will you keep on having faith, like Dr. Valero, and continue to search for the missing puzzle pieces that will save lives? I ask you to con- sider Dr. Valero for a Metastatic Breast Cancer Heroes™ award because with his wonderful support, my mother is still with us today, happy and healthy and the best mother ever! And I hope this award can inspire many people to keep on searching for missing pieces of the puzzle with faith and hope.

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