Originally submitted as an English essay on October 18, 2018. Kyla is a student at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School.

My mom. My mom is richly deserving of so many more years on this planet; teaching my siblings and I valuable lessons; being a compassionate and caring friend; being a wife, and truly just being herself. She was taken from us way too early.

But with the time she had on this Earth, she put her whole heart and full self into everything she accomplished. She was strong. If I could only describe her in one word, that is is the word. Strong. After her recurrence of breast cancer in late 2008, she woke up every morning knowing the day was going to be hard, but not letting the negative effects of cancer ruin the day she was going to have. None of us know how much time we have on this earth, so we must use the time we each have to the fullest. That is what my mom did.

My mom woke us up, drove us to school, worked from 9 to 5, drove us home, made dinner, and put us to bed. To sleep. All of this while there were cancer cells inside her body, mutating, eventually metastasizing in early 2014 and overwhelming her good cells on the morning of October 21, 2014. If that isn’t strong, I don’t know what is. She was as strong as the scent of her perfume. She put her family before anything. She put her family before her cancer. She realized that yes cancer can kill physically, but it can’t kill who you are and who you want to be. She wanted to be a loving mother. She wanted to be a loyal wife. She wanted to be an architect. She succeeded at each of these things. And well beyond these things. My mom was a role model not just for me, but so many more people that I don’t even know. She carried herself so well through the hardest of times. The toughest of treatments. When she wanted to give up, she didn’t. When she wanted to stop struggling, she didn’t. She knew she couldn’t quit until she knew her children were going to be as her, strong enough to handle life. Just like her. That for me is love and strength. She loved us so much that she lived each day to its fullest, even her last.