You Should Not Have to Say Goodbye

A personal story about losing a mother to breast cancer


photo submitted by Marissa Shook

My mom and I celebrate my birthday when I was younger.

Marissa Shook, Reporter

In the last seven years, my life has been a little difficult, but I’ve dealt with it better than a lot of people think. I’ve dealt with my mother passing away, my father going to prison, having to move schools a couple times and explain my story to a lot of people who have walked out of my life over and over again. The one that hurt me the most was my mother’s death. 

On Mother’s Day in 2015 my mother, Laura Cayton, found out she had stage 4 breast cancer. I lived with my dad, Jason Shook, at the time so when we got the call that we needed to go Mercy hospital and I remember bringing her a flower I had made in school not knowing something horrible was soon going to happen with my mom.  I was going to the Wentzville School District. When we got to the hospital, I thought she looked fine, but I soon realized that wasn’t the case. She told us she had stage 4 cancer. I was 8 and I didn’t understand what cancer was or death. It’s kind of a blur for a year or so but she went through radiation, chemo, and PET (positron emission tomography) scans. PET scans are used to help diagnose some conditions including cancer.  It can also help to find out where and whether cancer has spread. After her chemo sessions she would be fine the next day, cleaning the whole house and then get really sick and wouldn’t get out of bed for days on end. I remember going to one for the chemo sessions. It was me and my sister, Mariah Shook. It felt like we were there for hours on end. I felt tired, upset, confused, and lost because I was still a child and didn’t understand anything that was going on. I just wanted to be with my mom. 

The last photo with my mom. (submitted by Marissa Shook)

In 2017, I moved in with my aunt, Leah Hug, for a couple years because my father hung around the wrong people and drugs took over my father and my mom was getting worse. By this time, the cancer had spread to her lungs, brain, bones and liver. She had 11 brain tumors and started losing her memory. She was falling a couple times and couldn’t remember when or where she even fell. By 2019, she couldn’t talk, walk, go to the bathroom on her own, eat, drink or even lift a finger. I remember the night before she passed. I refused to sleep in the room she was sleeping in because I was terrified she was going to pass away overnight. I could hear everything in her throat, she looks miserable. We all went to sleep, and the next morning of April 7, 2019 around 10:38 a.m. Laura passed. Her funeral wasn’t until April 22, 2019 and then my father went to prison in May. 

Today on Oct. 24, I write this for children and everyone who has a parent or anyone they know that has cancer or an illness. I know the pain and heartache you feel, you and I feel alone, depressed, like a part of your heart is gone. I feel sadness everyday, but I’m living for her and to make her proud even though I can’t see her smile and hear her tell me she’s proud. If I could have one last thing from my mother, it would be one last hug and to hear her tell me she loves me. Everyone who is reading this, you are not alone. You have people, you just have to reach out and explain your emotions. People will help and care for you. Stay strong for yourself and those who love you, and those who you love.