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Brooklyn S.

My step mom, Rita, came into my life when I was 8 years old. From the start, she loved my brother and I like we were her own. I would look forward to going to her house on my dad's weekends because she would always have something fun for us to do. My mother was a bit on the strict side when I was growing up, so Rita was much more than just a step mother to me. She was a listening ear, my support system, and my best friend. When I was a junior in high school we found out she had a tumor in her lung. She went through chemo therapy, radiation, and eventually was bedridden. Her one goal was to see me graduate high school and she did just that. She lived with lung cancer for almost three years and not once did she stop supporting her family. She was at every single one of my brother's sports games, my father's wrestling shows, and even though she couldn't remember it the next day, she came to the first performance of the dance team I couched. She would always be embarrassed when she would get sick in front of me, but now that she is gone I would give anything to be there to hold her hand. Rita has been gone for almost 3 years now and now more than ever I want to celebrate her life, in her sickness and in her health. She was a true fighter and a strong woman. Whenever I feel like giving up, I think of her being sick and still being there for her family. Cancer can be devastating, but like Rita has proven, you can either let it consume your life and the lives of those closest to you or you can make the best of the time you have left with your loved ones.

First Published: June 14, 2016

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