“I’m sorry, Miss Versolenko, but x-rays show
you have three breaks in your fourth metacarpal, and two adjacent fractures in
your wrist,” the doctor told me. I stared at him in disbelief, as though he was
telling me a lie. I couldn’t believe it was possible. “No! It can’t be! I have a
softball team that needs me this summer. I am the starting shortstop, and
lead-off hitter!” No matter how I denied it, his words haunted me as I gave him
a cold stare. I wanted to blame the doctor, the nurses, anyone, do anything to
make my frustration go away. Little did I know, this would be the least of my
worries in this coming summer.
It was the summer before my junior year. I had
taken a job at a nearby ranch, exercising and training horses. I had been
working there for a month and I was starting to get familiar with the horses I
had been riding. Then one day my boss brought in a new horse. She seemed to keep
the fact from me that this horse had never been ridden. I went about putting the
saddle on, as the horse danced around nervously. “Are you sure he is okay to
ride?” I asked. “Yes, of course! Just jump on him, and see how he reacts.” With
that reassurance, I proceeded to hurl my leg over his back, with which he
started bucking witlessly. When I fell, my hand and wrist became caught in the
paneling of the pen as the weight of my body was pulled in the opposite
The pain in my arm and wrist couldn’t be
felt compared to the anguish of being benched for the summer. The summer seemed
longer as I quit my job, and was forced to watch my team practice, with an itchy
cast in the summer heat. I wanted to blame anyone I could think of. I couldn’t
believe how my summer had been ruined. Anger had filled me as I sat disabled. I
couldn’t have expected what was waiting for me in the days to come.
“Mom, why are you crying?” I asked. Just then
my dad walked through the door, and tried to comfort my mom. Both of their looks
shared a secret which I knew was soon going to be shared with me. “Your mom has
been diagnosed with breast cancer,” my dad said through choked up tears. Once
again, I stared in dismay for the second time in two weeks. I sat in disbelief
as he explained the details of her treatment, and what she was about to be
forced to go through.
My mother’s chemotherapy started shortly after
being diagnosed. Her body was being filled with poison every week and she had a
bald head to prove its potency. Many days she would be too sick to come out of
her bedroom. She didn’t allow us to come in either, because any smell of
perfume, food, pets, etc. would make her vomit instantly. Nausea, fatigue, and
sometimes depression overtook her. My mother was locked upstairs in her bedroom,
away from me, for weeks on end.
Soon it would be time for our softball team to
go to the state playoffs in Baker City, Oregon. I rode there with the team, and
our families followed in their own cars. Accompanying my dad was my mom, sick
and bald, but with a willing heart. You see, she had supported me in softball
since I had been a little girl, and nothing was going to stop her this time.
Though I was sitting in the dug out pouting because I couldn’t be out on the
field, my mom was still in the stands, cheering on my team. I would look over at
her, and though her eyes would tell me she was tired and her body was sick, the
smile on her face told me she was pushing through it. I looked down at my cast,
and took a look at myself. Who was I to sulk because of this unfortunate
accident, when my mom was also given the cancer without request?
I know my teammates saw her
strength to, her pure joy, even through this adversity. “The championship
game ball goes to the heart and strength behind this team. It goes to the reason
why we never gave up. It goes to Mrs. Versolenko.” My team had won our state
championship, and was sent on to the regional tournament in Missoula, Montana.
My mom had taught me and every girl on my team many lessons through her trial.
She had demonstrated pure joy, even though she was sick, and cancer was still
residing in her body. My mother had surgery two days before I left with my team
to Montana. It was going to be a major surgery: a radical mastectomy with seven
lymph nodes being removed. I knew she could not make it to this tournament. It
was sad for me to leave her, and that she could not be with us. She was the
heart behind our team.
Our first game started with a long
introduction, the national anthem sang, and prayers. Everyone on the team was
nervous as we watched our opponents from southern California, who towered over us
in size. Yet, the spectacle of that day was not how we could overcome our
“I don’t believe it!” my coach exclaimed as his
eyes were diverted from the field to the stands. As I looked to follow his gaze
I saw my mom, sitting in the stands, leaning against my dad. Her face was tired,
and her eyes were heavy. She carried drainage bags on her hip still left there
from surgery. She could hardly sit by herself, but yet she wore her famous
smile. My eyes filled with tears, when she glanced my way and waved at me. The
poison, the cancer, the surgery, nothing could keep her down. The joy of the
Lord permeated her and there she sat, my role model, my hero, my mom.
That summer was filled with trials that I never
want to go through again. But those same trials were the ones that taught me
lessons that couldn’t be learned any other way. I had forgotten about my broken
bones, my inability to play, and my selfish wants. “The joy of the Lord,” and
“be joyful in everything” is what I have read about so many times, but that
summer it was made real to me by my mother. I am now ready to take on anything,
because I know the joy of the Lord will be my strength.