The New Normal

After eight years of multiple surgeries, many hospital visits, and constant strain from stress, Aleesa Ross said her family is finally beginning to see glimpses of normalcy.

Ross is the Director of The Career Center for the College of Media and Communication, a mother to three young children, and wife to Brent Ross. She said she never thought cancer would ever affect her family. Ross said the cancer was found by chance after Brent visited his urologist.

“My husband had a mole on his leg removed that turned out to be melanoma,” She said. “That led to a bigger surgery where they removed a chunk of his shin to make sure they got it all.”

Ross said she and Brent were only in their 30’s when the cancer battle began, and she was six months pregnant with their first child, Cooper.

She said after the first surgery had been completed she and her family went back to their daily routines, her husband’s cancer returned. Ross said after all of those surgeries and treatments had been completed, it returned for a third time.

“He had 63 lymph nodes removed in his neck,” Ross said. “It was almost this time exactly a year ago where it was compressed in his spine and he was numb from the waist down.”

What she and her husband went through was awful, she said, especially trying to balance his illness and raise three small children. But now, Ross said after her husband’s last checkup the doctors discovered the cancer was gone. She said after going through continuous courses of chemo and radiation, she hopes her family can finally participate in regular activities and even travel.

“I mean, he’s on his way back from Augusta, GA at the Master’s this week,” Ross said. “But this is why we did this, to have a normal life.”

She said her husband is also looking forward to their son’s upcoming baseball tournaments and, they’re talking about going on vacation with their kids this summer. Ross said they are also going on a cruise with her family around Christmas time this year.

Ross said she does not think she could have gotten to a point of normalcy without the support of her family, friends, and sorority sisters.

“That was a hard thing for me to learn, that people want to help and that I should let them,” she said. “That’s really hard because I’m a control freak and I think I can do it all.”

Ross said people would do her kids’ laundry for her, make her family dinner, go grocery shopping, and even bought them gift cards. She said the support she and her family received while her husband was going through cancer treatments was amazing. Ross said she didn’t realize how much her family needed the help until people started offering.

Now, Ross said, she and her family will return the favor and support the fight against cancer during Relay For Life, which took place Saturday on Tech campus. She said it’s really important for she and her family to go, especially for her children.

Ross said she is not sure her kids fully understand what cancer is, but. They know that is made their dad sick, she said, and that in order to help him get better he needed a lot of medicine.

“I think this will kind of help them see a bigger community-wide support of it and the fight against it,” Ross said. “They have a sheltered version of it that was confined within our house, so I think it will be a good thing for them to experience that.”

Ross said after going through her husband’s battle with cancer, she has an outlook that she thinks may help others who have been affected by the illness.

“My philosophy has been to ‘pay it forward,’” she said. “We’ve had this awful experience, but what have we learned from it and how can I help other people?”

Ross said by sharing the knowledge she has gained throughout the eight-year battle, there is a glimpse of good that can come out of such an awful situation.

About Lauren Estlinbaum

Entertainment Director    —    Journalism major, Class of 2014
Lauren Estlinbaum grew up in Pearland, Texas, south of Houston (go Texans). She is a journalism major with a minor in apparel design. Lauren would like to work for either a fashion or lifestyle publication post-graduation. As she likes to say, she considers fashion magazines survival guides.

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