The C Word

Ros Gold-Onwude

You list your mother as one of your role models, why?

My mom taught me the value of cherishing every single moment. Her name is Stacey Ransaw, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer in December of 2006. She fought and beat the cancer. She is a survivor, literally, and I admire her strength.

When did she tell you?

My mom and I went to my friend’s basketball game. After the game she became adamant about going to lunch. This stood out as weird because we don’t usually go out to eat together much. So I thought, “something’s different here.” We ended up at IHOP. My mom starts talking to me and she goes off on this whole speech going in just about every which direction until finally she gets to the topic she wanted to talk about all along. She said, “Essence be grateful. Be grateful for everything you have…” And then she told me she has breast cancer. I was stuck. I didn’t know how to feel. The “C word” scares everyone. The first thing I thought about is that there is no cure. I didn’t know how to feel for a while but my mother was strong. And together we took it day by day.

Did you have to take on a new role as your mom battled breast cancer?

Actually, not really. During the time she was strong and often made light of the situation. She knows her children and knows me well. I’m the type to internalize my feelings. I won’t show it or say much at all but I feel it a lot. She made sure I was ok. She was the one fighting cancer yet she wanted to make sure that everyone else wasn’t worried.

What did you learn about your mom as she successfully fought off the disease?

I learned just how strong she is. That she is a survivor. Not many people win that fight. I’m just happy to say that my mom won hers. She is so strong in every aspect of life. There are different options for chemotherapy and she underwent the process using pills. She was on pills for years and radiation for a while. It made her extremely tired. That was the only thing she complained about, being tired. Still, my mother found a way to go to work every day. She works for the New Jersey Transit and has to be at work at 4:00 AM every day. The cancer and the chemo never stopped her from going to work or to my games.

Has her personality changed at all now that she is cancer-free?

In a lot of ways she’s the same. She’s funny, or at least she thinks she’s funny, upbeat and outgoing. She still has to go every couple of months to have a check up for new cancer. And every time she comes back fired up and singing, “I’m cancer-free, woot woot!” She calls me every time she goes and I love it. She has made some changes. Before having cancer, my mom would go to work, come home, and sleep. Now she has created outlets for herself. I see her hanging out with friends more. That’s good and I believe that because of her bout with cancer she treasures everyone and everything around her even more.