My Mom Had Cancer + Where It Has Lead Me


Growing up I always felt like cancer kept a safe distance from my family home. Fortunately for us, cancer wasn’t something we felt plagued with.

As time went on and as I grew up the “C” word started inching its way closer and closer, until one day the words that no one ever wants to hear were spoken to me…your mom has cancer. Cancer made its way in. Into our family home, into our lives, and life as we knew would never be the same.

Life was about to get hard and really kinda depressing.

Her diagnosis was colorectal cancer.

At the time she was diagnosed my husband and I had our first child, he was about 7 months old. I was on cloud 9 being a “new” mom, I had my family and I was taking care of them, I was the “mom”. I also had our happy little nest and a career to tend to. I was a working mom and had the great fortune of my son’s Grandma was not only “Nana” but she was also his “Nanny”. It was what made the decision to work acceptable in my opinion.

Unfortunately this cloud 9 drifted back to reality when I spent my first mother’s day in the hospital with my mom; she had surgery to remove the tumor. It was definitely NOT what I ever imagined my first mother’s day to be. EVER.

This disease “cancer” is flipping scar-ry.

Why is this happening, is this for real?! I did not want to face the reality that my mom, my confidant, the woman who raised me to be the woman I am, the woman whom I loved most in this ENTIRE universe was actually sick, like, really sick! When I heard she had cancer, I felt devastated.

I tried to stay positive…. – We are going to FIGHT this and we are going to WIN. – God only does this kind of thing for a reason. – There will be good in this…..somehow. –

However, she was really sick and going to get even sicker from surgery, chemo and radiation. I wondered if she really was strong enough and if the doctors really could find it ALL. I felt depressed watching her suffer, listening to her fears, seeing her fill with sadness, even watching her tears fall when she was just having a bad day.

I felt hopeless at times. When I would stop to think about how SHE was feeling, I could not even come close to completely understanding. This was really frustrating. I realized a caregiver can only do so much. This was her battle, and I was only there to support her. I was angry, scared and couldn’t come close to imagining the feelings she had. I so badly wanted to blame someone or something…diet, stress, genetics, anxiety, environment, cleaning products, plastic water bottles!!! ANYTHING, just something.

I wanted to be there for her through the entire process. I wanted to go to every doctor appointment, every treatment, every time she was sick I wanted to be there to help her, to lift her when she was weak, and to encourage her so that maybe she wouldn’t have to suffer…..alone. She was my mom! She would have wanted to do the same for me. We rallied the entire family, all of them, my sisters and their families, my dad, my husband, her mom, her sister and brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles and her friends, they all were truly her angels during this entire journey.

The doctors did not always have an answer. They certainly couldn’t tell me why this happened! They couldn’t make a direct link! Or just prescribe something to make it go away. When I would ask about her diet, they didn’t really want to talk about it. During treatment she was told that it didn’t really matter what she ate, veggies and fruit weren’t going to help with chemo therapy anyway and her system won’t be able to handle “raw” fruit and veggies after surgery. We followed the doctors suggested treatment plan, the traditional route of surgery, chemo therapy and radiation.

I immediately found myself diving deep into trying to understand what makes “us” sick. Today I am a strong advocate for cancer prevention and believe we need to “let thy food be thy medicine.” Keep a healthy body and mind, and stay positive. I am becoming more and more mindful of our environment. {Check out this woman’s kickass cancer warrior story, she has truly been an inspiration to me! Kris Carr, Crazy Sexy Cancer and check out Joe Cross, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead his journey to heal his body and use food to prevent disease and get off medication for good}

I started to wonder if the traditional route of treatment was the right choice or if we should look into a natural or holistic route. In my humble opinion after reading many thoughts on modern medicine vs. natural remedies {I now understand cancer cells pretty much do suck and they freak me out! And the scariest part is that cancer is EVERYWHERE, there is NO cure + people are being diagnosed daily around the globe.} I believe the best thing to do when faced with cancer is BOTH, natural remedies + modern medicine, together, holistically. At least until they find a way to make cancer cells magically disappear!

Treatment did bring out all the uglies you hear about. She was incredibly sick, nausea, yes. She was weak, her nerves were affected, and she became sensitive to cold and other things. Her immune system was of course compromised; she would become ill and have to stop or slow down the treatment, and was even hospitalized a few times. It took months to get through this treatment process.

Life continued on, even during the uglies.

While I was watching my mom deal with cancer I was lead to volunteering. I wanted to be part of something bigger than me, something that was involved with helping other people who were suffering from cancer like her.

We participated years prior in a Relay for Life event for a family friend Tanya {read her message here!} she was diagnosed with Leukemia as a child {Very happy to say she won her fight and is finishing her college career this year}. I thought Relay was a great place to start. I went to the first local meeting with my mom’s best friend who also wanted to do something more. That night we both started our team “Sharon’s Angels” and joined the committee. We got really involved!

5 years later and my family and friends are still actively involved with the Farmington/Farmington Hills Relay for Life event. Our team has raised thousands of dollars over the years in effort to help find a cure and help others in need of support. We have gained many friends that have now become like family. We have sadly watched an amazing fellow relayer who worked really REALLY hard to fight her own cancer battle and who wanted to make a difference in the community, lose their battle. And we pray for her and her family to this day, her family walks proudly every year in her honor. My mom is even the co-chair for the event this year! She has decided to keep fighting her fears and is doing something she truly believes in. I am super proud of her and everything she has accomplished. She has really worked on building her strength on the inside and out.

annette cancer strength messageedit

Today I am incredibly thankful my mom is a survivor, 5 years this past mother’s day! Woo-hoo!!! We will continue to walk, raise awareness about cancer and early detection, raise money and join others to fight for a cure. This year I will be joining my mom in the Spring at the Relay for Life Farmington/Farmington Hills, end of Spring at the Race for A Cure in Detroit, and the Light the Night Walk in Wyandotte this October.

One of the greatest lessons I have been able to take away from this experience is to let go. Let go of the negative things I cannot control in my life, my fears, and trust that God has a reason. When life gets hard and the reason has some type of lesson, I will listen and trust, and try to be the best version of me. It truly is about living in the now and letting go of anything that gets in the way of positive thinking and your happiness. {This woman has empowered my thinking and I am so thankful for her giant message on I-75N! Thank you Jodi, let}

Annette mom had cancer collage 1 Annette mom had collage 2

Cancer does suck! I hope I have inspired you to get out there and make a difference somehow, join others who are fighting. Even if you walk alone or if you rally your friends and family together.   Get out there and find a cause you believe in, you could even just donate your time if you can’t donate your money, join the planning committee, get involved with fundraising, or find a way to help others and show support, reality is everyone you meet is battling something.

Health + Happiness ~annette

Previous articleWeekend Happenings :: In + Around Detroit 9/5 – 9/7
Next articleA Message From A Childhood Cancer Survivor
Hi Detroit Mommas!!! I'm Annette Rioux, co-founder of Detroit Moms Blog. I'm a work-at-home momma raising my family in Novi. I am passionate about creating a healthy + happy life for the ones I love most in this world, my husband Joel and our 2 boys JB + JJ. I am working on getting my small creative business off the ground {annette's creation's}, I homeschool our 2 boys {age 5 + age 3}, and help run this wonderful blog {DMB}! I was given this opportunity to stay home with my family when I was laid off from my Interior Design career mid-January 20-13. I was a stressed, unhappy mom wanting more freedom in my life at the time. We made many sacrifices to do this, we work everyday to keep me home raising our family. I love design, DIY, creating a healthy lifestyle, entertaining, reading, learning, coffee and just being a MOM. I'm learning how acceptance, letting go, and choosing happiness can lead me to where I need to be.


  1. Annette, I love your writing, and you have helped even me, to understand this awful disease.
    I do not understand, I have also walked and supported loved ones, why,, after all the collections and money given, why, why, why, they haven’t found a cure yet for many of the cancers!

    It makes me think that they Don’t want to find a cure. It makes me sad too!

    Love you, aunt Penny


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.