Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jenna Morasca: Remembering Mom's Battle With Cancer

Jenna Morasca: Remembering Mom’s Battle

originally posted at Jenna's Fan Cast Series

Before I am able to get into the whirlwind of life that accosted me after learning of Ethan’s cancer diagnosis it important to know some the history I have with cancer.

I realized not long ago that by the time I leave this earth, no matter when it is I will have officially only spent approximately 14 years of my life where I did not have to deal with cancer. Why is this?

Well, because cancer is not a disease that you get rid of and never think of or worry about again. I will always worry about cancer with Ethan for the rest of my life whether he is 2 months cancer free or twenty years cancer free. Cancer embeds itself into the fabric of your life and you just have to find a way to work around it. The other reason why I make this powerful statement is because of my mother. My mother battled cancer for 12 years before losing her fight.

When my mom and dad told me my mother had cancer when I was in middle school I really had no idea what they were talking about or how this disease would forever change me. I guess that’s the supreme blindness of being young that we all long to still have. I knew the illness was serious but I really had no idea what the whole family was in for.
My mother would get tests, go to chemo, get sick, have bad days, and all while I carried on with my life like nothing was really that serious. Cancer did not equal death to me at that young age, I just thought my mother was sick and she would get better like she always does. I also think I knew how tough my mother was and never could imagine anything beating her.

This part actually was true; my mother was one of the toughest people I have ever met. She fought cancer round by round, day by day, for twelve years before losing that last battle- 12 years.

The point where cancer started to really dig its heels into me and I started to realize just how serious it is was when I entered college. While other college freshman where moving into their dorms, excited about starting a new part of life I decided to live at home so I was there to help my mom and not miss a precious moment I knew were getting smaller and smaller.

While other freshman attended parties after class and in the evenings, I went home to be with my mom. Do I regret not having the full “college experience”?


I will never get those moments back with my mom and luckily I was wise enough to know that at the time.

Then of course came the opportunity for me to go on my favorite and my mom’s favorite TV show - ‘Survivor’.

My mom got me hooked on the show from season one and she was more excited that I was able to be a part of the show than I was. My journey through Survivor: Amazon and my eventual win was one of the most exciting experiences of my life. I lived my dream and the last trip my mother ever took was to NYC to see me win ‘Survivor’ on Mothers Day.

Talk about a moment I knew she would never forget.

I got a lot of criticism for going back on ‘Survivor’ to play ‘Survivor: All Stars’. As we all know I had a bad feeling during the show and left the game to go home to my mother. She died 7 days later.

People asked me why I would return to the show again with my mother being sick. Well my mother was sick for 12 years; in fact she encouraged and almost demanded I attend both ‘Survivor’ seasons. If I would of stopped my life for her cancer I would of never even graduated high school. My mother did not want cancer to interfere with my life, as she knew it would eventually end hers.

Many people also ask if production of Survivor clued me in to my mother’s health while I was on the show. The truth is my mother was stable when I was on the show. It was a gut feeling, a mother-child intuition, that led me to believe something was wrong, that my mother was holding on waiting for me to get back, and I did not want to be gone when she left this world.

My dad told me that when he whispered in my mom’s ear that I was coming back to her from ‘Survivor’, that night she stopped eating and drinking completely on her own- she knew. When I walked into her hospital room my Dad greeted me with the biggest hug, I was sad I had to leave ‘Survivor ‘and did not want to disappoint him but he said, “I couldn’t be prouder of you, you made the right decision.”

I felt peace.
This may sound weird, but at times I wanted my mother to pass on, because I knew being the tough women she was she would be appalled to know she was being tube fed, relying on others solely. I know it sounds terrible, but every caretaker knows that towards those last few weeks of your loved ones life you almost wish the suffering was over, you know what the end result is going to be, its just a long grueling waiting process.

I know in the other world my mom is the fiery, opinioned, loving, and funny person we all know and remember. I know one day I will see her again, until then her presence and love is always in my heart. And when Ethan was diagnosed with cancer, I felt her stronger than I ever did, her support and love to help me get through this.


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