NSU Writers: The power of a smile and a memory

By Carrie Woodley, NSU Student

Carrie Woodley NSU dentist.jpg


Can you image growing up as a young child without your mom? It may sound strange, but that’s my cousin’s life and she’s managed to remain focused despite having so many obstacles. My cousin, Chelsea Kere’ Hooper is one smart, determined, and focused young lady. Not only did she watch her mom suffer with breast cancer for many years, but after her passing, Chelsea had to navigate through her childhood, preteen, teenage and now the young adult years.

Even though Chelsea lives in Dallas, Texas, she has always been my favorite cousin because she listens and really tries to help others. Since our mothers were sisters we were able to see each other all the time while growing up. Chelsea’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was only 2-years-old and passed away 6 years later. This was a stressful and depressing time for Chelsea, mainly because she didn’t really understand what was taking place.

She did have her two older brothers and her dad to lean on, but that wasn’t enough and she closed up inside. Her dad seemed to move on with a female companion and her brothers didn’t understand her and what she needed as a little girl. She felt mostly betrayed by her dad because he started to give all of his attention to someone other than her.

In her eyes, the only way to escape the absence of a mom was to ignore the hurt on the inside and harm herself on the outside. So, Chelsea starting cutting herself with knives and other sharp objects. Eventually, she realized that she was only hurting herself in the process so she stopped and tried to refocus her attention on her goals.

On a routine visit to the dentist Chelsea became interested in what the dentist was doing and how people would leave the dentist’s office smiling instead of leaving with a droopy face. This simple act from other patients left a growing desire in her to become a dentist and that set her plans in motion. My mom and aunt were always there for her and she leaned on them for everything. They helped her secure several academic scholarships so she was able to attend Baylor University and graduate with honors and now she is in her third year of dental school at Texas A&M Baylor College of Dentistry.

When asked what kept her motivated and focused she was quick to say that she thought of her mom every single day. She also values the support and guidance from my mom and my aunt as well as many of her elementary, middle and high school teachers. Her friends were there to make sure she never felt left out so my aunt would pay for her to go on trips with them to other parts of the world. As Chelsea gets closer to her dream of becoming a dentist I know her mom, my Aunt Caroline is looking down smiling at her baby girl.