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It was 2003. I had just turned 16, and that was the summer my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She had just gotten divorced from my stepdad, and we were officially two gals taking care of business for ourselves.

Since 2003 she has had 5 recurrences (but that number doesn’t accurately capture the flare-ups inside of each recurrence), 5 surgeries, 24 chemotherapy infusions, 20 bio-drug infusions, 1,300+ anti-hormonal pills, 46 CT scans, 12 white blood cell shots, 1 red blood cell shot, 1 blood transfusion, and 40+ port flushes (numbers current as of April 2020). The one-year clinical trial she participated in in my early 20’s almost killed her — I had just graduated from college (’09 Recession Class, what up!), and I remember flying home as often as I could from Minneapolis to find her colorless, unable to get out of bed, and down to 100 pounds.

So, here is the short list of what I wish my friends knew about being a caregiver, but they didn’t know until I told them.

Read more on Love Labor Project.

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