Lessons I Learned from My Mom When Diagnosed with Cancer

If you have been on our list for any length of time you know that I was raised by a single mother.

My mom was abandoned on an indian reservation with 3 young children to provide for with no money, no college degree and too ashamed to ask for help.

She is living proof that no matter how bad your current circumstances are–there is always a way. She is a shining example of what’s possible.

Mum is my biggest fan as well. She has always been there for me when I needed: encouragement… understanding… hope… comfort… advice… values… and morals.

Unfortunately a couple of weeks ago she was given some devastating news.

She has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

But, true to form, she never once complained.

She never once felt sorry for herself.

To quote her, when I asked her how she was doing she said to me, “I’m good. I’m going to have surgery and I’m gonna beat this thing!”

She never ceases to amaze me.

When it was time for her surgery I told her I would go up to Seattle and be with her and she insisted that I don’t because, “it’s only a minor surgery and I know you have work to do”.

Me on the other hand, I didn’t know what to think!? I was kind of in shock.

My mind raced, it zigged and zagged, it resisted that fretful question until finally, for the first time in my life, I had to ask myself, “what would I do if she died?”

I have been really fortunate in the fact that I haven’t had to deal with a lot of death in my life. My first experience with the grim reaper was when my grandfather, who was like a father to me passed away when i was 14. Being so young I barely can remember it.

My next loved one that passed was my grandmother. But my grandma and I had spent so much time together and we had had many hear-to-heart discussions about death… was she scared? Did she have any regrets?

I told her so many times that I loved her and that she was best grandma ever. I had ZERO regrets when she died. When she finally departed I didn’t even go to her funeral. I was perfectly content–we had said our goodbyes many times before.

But if mom was to die tomorrow, I don’t know if I would have that same contentedness.

This whole ordeal has reminded me of few life lessons.

#1 We tend to live in our dominant emotion: Positive people with be positive no matter how bad things get and negative people will be negative no matter how good they have it. Sad people will always find a reason to be sad and angry people always find a reason to be angry. My mom has always found a way to be positive no matter what. As yourself which are you?

#2 There is always something to be grateful about: When she found out that she ductal carcinoma, she was so grateful that she didn’t have a more aggressive type. When she found out that a full mastectomy was not required, she used that as a reason to be grateful. No matter what problem you may be experiencing there is always something to grateful about–it could always be worse.

#3 Relationships are what really matter: When I first moved out of state for college I used to talk to my mother at very minimum 2 times per week and come home 4-6 times a year. After college and after starting multiple companies those numbers have diminished to speaking less than 1 time a week and usually only going home once a year. This has been a major wake up call to what is really important to me. I have been taking for granted the time and opportunity I have to create meaningful memories with my loved ones. I have committed to myself to call my family at least once a week and to make a trip back home at least 3 times a year. Ask yourself if you have been taking the people you love most for granted.

#4 Why do we do what we do? In addition, I am reminded that business building and wealth creation really mean nothing if it prevents you from being able to help the ones you love the most. So, for once in my life I did not take my mothers advice and I am writing you from her home in Seattle. 🙂

I hope this article is a firm reminder that nothing in life is guaranteed.

Take this opportunity to ask yourself if the people that you care about the most were to be taken from you tomorrow–would you have a heavy heart?

Let your family and friends know you love them and appreciate them!

Loving, Living, Giving Large:



  1. Helen on December 27, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Jeff, I did not know about your mom. My mom was an inspiration in my life as well as to how she pulled herself up from nothing. You didn’t say how things went and I hope it was well. In any case you and Roberto are an inspiration in my life as well. I am sure she is very proud of you. Your friend and Fan Helen

    • Jeff Paro on December 30, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      Hi Helen! Thanks for stopping by… Moms are awesome huh? My mother, as of today, is completely cancer free. Thanks for your continued support we appreciate it. All the best to you!

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