My Life On Self Destruct

by GEM Magazine / Jan 02, 2016 / Comments

I was sitting next to my friend when my Mom called me. It was a normal conversation at first until she asked me if I was sitting down.

“Jessica I have cancer”. You would think this news would have destroyed me, but all I said was, "Okay." She explained that she would be fine and not to worry. Again I said, "Okay." And we carried on with our conversation.

A week went by when I had my first panic attack at work. I had no idea what was happening. I couldn’t breathe and it felt like my entire world was collapsing. Thankfully, I was with my older sister who sat with me until I calmed down and could breathe evenly.

At the time, I lived away from my Mom so my sister and I arranged to be with her at opposite times, meaning she would have someone with her during her treatments. However, the closer it came to leaving my Mom and return home, the more anxious I became.

The day of my departure I had my second panic attack... all the way to the airport. My Mom sat with me as she tried to calm me down and made sure I was alright before I left.

I sat waiting for the plane in a dreamlike state, when a voice came over the tannoy explaining that there was something wrong with the plane and the flight had been cancelled. I jumped for joy and quickly called my Mom to tell her the news.

I felt a massive relief inside. In that moment I decided that I was going to hold her hand through the rest of the treatments.

It was a blessing in disguise.

Half way through, she had to stop with the radiation as she was breaking out in large boils, but she continued with the chemo until the very last session. And when they were finished, I packed up my life and moved back to be with her. I did not want her going through any of this alone.

At this point I was in school full time and worked five nights a week to help my Mom financially. This was one of my biggest issues; there is literally no help for cancer patients and their families.

My Mom was diagnosed at 54, her rent was $1,100 and she received $900 from the government to live on a month, which didn’t even cover her rent. I researched and tried to find help anyway possible, but there was nothing, so I worked.

Throughout all this, my Mom was always in such high spirits, she hid the illness and her pain very well.

Her strength and courage kept me going.

The doctors informed us that the cancer had nearly gone, except a small amount left on her tailbone. I didn’t really know what this meant. A few months went by and she seemed to be getting better, until one day she couldn’t move at all.

She progressively got worse over the weeks until I made her see our family doctor. When they saw her they asked me what had happened and why she hadn’t been brought in earlier. I had been calling them and no one had responded to me. She was rushed to hospital and received a colostomy, which is a huge procedure.

My Mom was released a week after her operation, which I believe was way too early. My sisters and I did our best to help her adjust to the colonoscopy. She was in excruciating pain, but was so strong regardless.

I carried on... Helping care for my Mom, looking for funding, trying to stay positive, working, and attending school. It became the 'norm'.

By the middle of November we found out that her cancer had aggressively spread throughout her entire left leg and she was given three months to live.

My Mom's last wishes were say goodbye to her loved ones in Ontario. Although it was not recommended as we had everything set up with the hospice and medical, she insisted. So I decided to hold a benefit at the pub where I worked to raise money for the tickets.

Through ticket sales, raffle, and generous donations from local businesses, I raised over $2000. I also had an online account with Go which raised a further $4000. I am so grateful for everyone who donated as this money saved our family.

Unfortunately, she became too ill to travel and couldn't make it back home.

I may have seemed like I kept everything together. I tried very hard to be optimistic, but I went down a very dark path; drinking every single night, until I was black out.

One night when I was extremely intoxicated, my manager had witnessed me crying on the phone with my Mom, asking her; “Can I come to heaven with you”.

It finally got to the point where I had to be put on suicide watch for three days at home with my Mom.

"It was the last thing she needed but I was a mess, I didn't know what to do."

My doctor had to take me aside and basically told me that I needed to grow up and be the person my Mom needed me to be. I was pissed, but she was right.

I stayed clean for about three months, by that time my Mom had been placed into hospice. When she passed, I slept for four days. It wasn’t until my sister made me get out of bed that I realized how long I had been out.

I returned home, dazed and started working the next day, full time in a hair salon. I was living downtown so it was easy for me to get right back into the drinking. And then someone offered me cocaine.

I hated it the first time I had it but by the end of the summer it always seemed to be around and I was not in a good place.

"Between MDMA, cocaine, mushrooms and drinking, I should have died."

I was buying it by myself, taking it alone and drinking at least a bottle of wine. How my 115 lb body handled this I cannot comprehend.

One night I had drank a bottle of wine, took a full bottle of pills, and did three bags of cocaine by myself. I remember messaging my dad saying I was sorry and that I'd tried my best. He called the police and somehow they got into my apartment building. They insisted on me going to the hospital.

"I told them everything, I was so embarrassed."

I chose to shelter myself after this incident. I deleted every persons number who I could get any type of drugs off, stopped hanging out with my “party” friends and watched all seasons of Greys Anatomy. It sounds insane but that show saved my life. Two months before I finished the show, I started doing yoga and working out.

"I cleansed myself."

I am no where near perfect or at the point where I want to be, but I can say that I did this all on my own.

It pains me to look back and see how dark my life got, but it has made me the person I am today and I have no shame.

If you are at your lowest point or those around you are judgemental and you can't see a way out, just keep going. I am living proof that you can do it, but you as an individual need to want it more than anything else.

And although at times I still struggle, I have learnt 'grounding' techniques to bring myself back to earth.

A place where I can now cope with the pain.

"A home is more fragile. A home is made of the people you fill it with. And people can be broken, sure. But any surgeon knows what's broken can be mended, what's hurt can be healed, that know matter how dark it gets, the sun is going to rise again" - Greys Anatomy

By Jessica Payton.

Jessica is a passionate young woman who strives to show others the beauty and adventure in life.

Instagram - paytonajessica
E-mail -

gem's picture
The Contributor

GEM Magazine


GEM is pushing for Gender Equality, and encouraging people to share their message through free speech. It aims to create more positive ways to utilize the internet.

This publication is an open platform raising awareness and resonating with readers through truth, honesty and vulnerability on subjects affecting our daily lives.

GEM contains articles that educate, inspire and provoke thought around aspects that are of concern in our current society.

"We all have the ability to make a difference. Inside each and everyone of us, we have the power. We are the people."