Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Mom's cancer makes families closer

This article includes a description of two patients’ actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results.

‘It rocked my world’

The day Payton Seever learned her mom had cancer changed everything. She was 12 years old at the time and had just returned from a summer trip to Italy. Excited to be back, she remembers her family’s home in Grain Valley, Missouri, was unexpectedly calm.

“My mom said she needed to talk to me, that she had found something,” recalled Payton, who turns 15 on May 15 and is pictured above on the left. “I knew what she was going to say. I just got up, went to my room and prayed to God that everything would be okay, that I wouldn’t have to lose my mom.”

Payton’s mom, Anita Seever, was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2010. The news of cancer was shocking but not unfamiliar to the Seevers. A close family friend had stage IV lung cancer and Anita’s two young daughters saw this friend lose her hair, get sick and just struggle. Anita was worried how the girls would react to her own diagnosis.

“It was still fresh for them,” said Anita, now 42 year old and pictured above on the right.

Anita had a mastectomy at Southwestern Regional Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in July 2010, and started chemotherapy a month later. During that time, Payton retreated from most of her friends and instead spent her time reading, playing sports or focusing on schoolwork. She mothered her younger sister, Tori, who was 7, and turned to God.

Though Anita’s last treatment was in December 2010, her battle with cancer has left a lasting impression on the family. Payton said it’s made the family closer. Before, she didn’t think twice about spending a lot of time with friends. Now, she declines invitations to stay overnight.

“I want to spend as much time as possible with my family,” Payton said. In the back of her mind she thinks, “What happens if I get sick? What happens if she gets sick again?”

Still, life has been a lot easier since Anita’s last treatment. Payton wrote the following to express what her mom means to her:

“Through all that we've been through I've become who I am. Seeing my mom’s courage has taught me to stand tall and keep my faith through it all. Our world was perfect before but as soon as we were touched by cancer, it rocked my world. You learn to see things in a new light. I've become a stronger person and I've become a fighter because of watching my mother fight. “

‘Each day is a blessing’

Like Payton, Erin Smith said her mom’s cancer diagnosis has made the family closer. Erin’s mom, Jill Smith, was diagnosed with stage III pancreatic cancer in February 2009, when Erin was 16 years old. The first couple months, the two slept in Erin’s new queen bed together. The firmer mattress helped with Jill’s back pain.

In April 2009, Erin had torn the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her knee while playing basketball at school. The time off gave the two more time together.

“I was just trying to get her mind off things and trying not to talk about the elephant in the room,” said Erin, now 20 and studying psychology at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. “We would talk about things at school or future things like summer coming and what we would do.”

Erin and Jill would go on walks together and avoided the typical blowups that mark the teenage years. Erin said it wasn’t worth it to fight, especially if it would give her mom a headache.

Jill, who was 50 when she was diagnosed, was treated at Eastern Regional Medical Center in Philadelphia. Her sons were 13 and 8 years old at the time. Jill says she feels happier than before her diagnosis and tries to project her positive outlook on life. Erin wrote of her mom:

“My mom is more than just a mother. She is my dearest friend. She is loving, gracious, selfless and one of a kind. Throughout the duration of her treatment, she was incredibly strong. She never let her emotions overwhelm her. As strange as this may seem, I am thankful for the experience that we as a family have gone through alongside my mom. It has undoubtedly made our family bond stronger than ever.

“The situation helped my family value the truly important matters in life and put aside the petty worries that often consumed our thoughts. I am thankful for all that she does and stands for. She serves as an unspoken reminder to me that each day is a blessing.”