What I’ve Learned From Being the Child of a Sick Parent


The Rocchio Family

Flashback: Sophomore Bella Rocchio (age 2) with her Mother before Lupus diagnosis on Halloween

Have you heard of lupus? Chances are you haven’t because it doesn’t affect you. But I know all about it because my mom has it. She was diagnosed when I was 6 years old and has been fighting ever since. My mom’s case is quite severe. She has been hospitalized over a dozen times since she has been diagnosed. I’ve celebrated New Year’s in a hospital room, along with my younger brother’s birthday three weeks later. There have been sleepless nights and hungerless meals with family friends spent waiting for news from the hospital. Even when she is feeling “better”, she still can’t go out and live a normal life without taking extra steroids to avoid immense pain and fatigue. I can go on and on about the pain lupus has caused me but that isn’t what I like to focus on. I like to focus on what it has taught me. But you must be wondering…. What is lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune condition which basically means that the body attacks itself. The white blood cells mistake healthy cells for unhealthy ones and do what the body normally does to bad cells: attack. There is no cure and treatments vary based on the symptoms, which are broad and mimic other illnesses making it hard to diagnose. Some of the symptoms my mother has include fatigue (sleeping for 20 hours a day), joint pain (can’t talk to you I’m in so much pain), skin blisters (hurts like heck and are everywhere). But lupus encompasses a wide variety of symptoms including hair loss, anemia, fever, rashes, chest pain, weight loss, and kidney problems. Lupus can also cause the body to attack the body’s organs such as the kidneys, liver, heart, lungs, and brain. It is a cruel disease. But I’ve learned quite a lot.

I no longer take anything for granted. I learned this early- maybe at ten. My mom had been hospitalized and I had a come-to-jesus moment. Life is short. Cherish it. Yes, cliche, but it can’t be more true. Another thing I’ve learned is that the small things really matter. For example, making my mom a cup of tea in the morning so she doesn’t have to experience the immense pain that comes with just walking down the stairs. Or just cherishing car rides. I get excited to go for a car ride with my mom because I rarely get to. We can talk and hang out, which is something that I barely get to do outside of her bedroom. 

There are so many other things that I can list from compassion to how to really love. But I’ll leave you with one last sentiment: be grateful. It’s not to say that you may be dealing with some pretty tough stuff, but finding the positive always makes me feel better. I am grateful everyday that my mom doesn’t have cancer, or organ involvement that makes her need a transplant, or that she isn’t dead from her disease. I’m grateful for the everyday moments and those are what matter the most.