A mother-daughter unending bond
It is often said that of all the gifts life has to offer, a mother's love is the greatest of them all. But do people take note of reciprocated love? What of a daughter's unconditional affection for the one who gave birth to her?
Shantal Mendez has a great relationship with her mother, and up to a little over two years ago, she never knew that their bond was about to strengthen due to her mother falling ill to cancer.
Now, more than ever, the two are inseparable.
Mendez related to Family and Religion how she felt when news of her beloved's sickness reached her.
"I honestly felt like my world had collapsed. I wanted to be positive, but at that moment, I was thinking that I was going to lose my mother.
"Now, I can't go a day without seeing her, though that has gotten a bit hard now that I'm away for school. But I try my best to keep in contact with her every day. It's something that has become a part of me after being at her side while I thought she was taking her last breath," she explained.
STICKING IT THROUGH
It was a rough patch for the entire family, but inspired by the undiluted love between the two, Mendez made the decision that she would stick it out with her mother through to the end even if it meant trimming her own hair.
"My hair always reminded me of her. Whenever persons would see me and my hair is in an Afro (style), they would ask: 'Who yuh get pretty hair from?' and I would say 'Mommy'.
"After she was diagnosed and started her chemo sessions, her hair started to shed. She had to get it cut off because it didn't make any sense anymore.
"Then I was not happy with having hair because she didn't. I didn't want anyone saying or asking me anything about my hair," she said, adding that she made the big chop last year.
Since then, the now 24-year-old woman says their mother-daughter relationship continues to improve.
"I have learnt to be appreciative of her being here because, before all this, I think I didn't (appreciate her enough). I was a regular child thinking 'oh Mummy too miserable' and to add, she was the strongest of everyone through the whole process.
"Her smile was even brighter during her sickness. It taught us as her children to have faith and always trust God because if it wasn't for Him, she would not have been here.
"We also learnt to never ever take anyone for granted, no matter how short or long they have been in our lives."
Mendez advises others of the importance of being there and caring for loved ones who are ill.
"Give your one hundred per cent support. It's a part of the healing process, just knowing someone is there for you will give that push to fight."