Madison Chock is a 2014 Olympic ice dancer and two-time world medalist with partner Evan Bates. Chock detailed her family’s experience with breast cancer for TeamUSA.org in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Everyone has been affected by cancer in some way – whether a friend or family member has fought it, or you yourself have battled it. For me, it was my mom. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I would like to share my experience and her story.
My family moved across the country from California to Michigan in 2005 so I could chase my skating dreams. But it was Feb. 8, 2007 when our world really changed. I was having a normal training day until both of my parents arrived at the rink to pick me up. I immediately saw something was wrong; I could see my mom had been crying and my dad was holding her hand. That day my mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
I remember feeling numb when they told me. It didn’t seem real. I didn’t want to believe them. How could this have happened to my mom? Why her? These are questions I will never have answers to. But I do know that on that day her battle began.
My mom had four surgeries at first, all lumpectomies. When the margins still came back positive, she needed to have a mastectomy. In April she began chemotherapy. She traveled to Dallas once a week, every month through December, always with my dad by her side. While they were away for her therapy, I would shuffle between the homes of close friends in Michigan, or family members would take turns coming out to stay with me so I could continue to train and go to school.
It was difficult not being by her side, but I knew she wanted me to focus on skating after all the sacrifices we had made as a family.
I am so lucky to have family and friends who supported us during my family’s fight against cancer. They welcomed me into their homes and cared for me when I needed it most. My strongest pillar of support was my skating partner at the time, Greg Zuerlein. He understood what I was going through the most because he was going through the same thing. His mom was battling brain cancer at the same time my mom was fighting her battle. We leaned on each other for support and used our love for skating as a reprieve from reality.
I am happy to say my mom has been in remission for 10 years. Greg’s mom won her battle too. We’re both fortunate to have happy endings to our stories, but not every family is as lucky. That is why Breast Cancer Awareness Month is so important. It brings resources, support and awareness to an ongoing fight that is not yet finished.