I wrote this column back in high school when I was the chief editor of our school newspaper in 2005. You had just been diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer earlier that summer.
On July 12, 2005, my livestrong bracelet became more than just a fad; it became my lifestyle.
I went into this past summer filled with excitement because I was finally going to be a senior in high school. I found myself eager to discover where I would be once the next year had come and gone because it would be the beginning of a very new,
life-altering stage in my life.
Little did I know that this wonderful life I live would throw yet another stage at me before the day I'd graduate. That new, unplanned stage in my life has changed me more than receiving a diploma ever could because on one drizzly evening in July, I was told my mother had cancer.
Even as I say it now a lump instantly forms in my throat. My mother has cancer. Most people don’t see what the big deal is nowadays because it seems like everyone has it, but it’s different when it’s not your brother’s friend’s aunt; it’s different when it happens to someone you love.
The word cancer is so simple and yet so complex at the same time. I eat, sleep, and breathe cancer. My vocabulary has become bombarded with other obscure words like platelets and flatus; words that most adults don’t even know and that are now second nature to me.
This summer it seemed like my life had completely demolished in front of my eyes. It made me bitter and angry. I couldn’t figure out how people could still go on with their lives when mine had completely fallen apart in the matter of seconds. My senior year hadn’t even begun, and I was already dreading what was supposed to be the best year of my life.
It took a long time to adjust to this new life, but once I did it got a little easier. Not easy though—just easier.
And sometimes I take myself back to the beginning of this mess to the first time the word cancer was linked to my mom and indirectly to me. I never thought that the emotions from that night would still continue to feel so real. I was always told to never look back, but doing so helps me in so many ways. It hurts to think of where I’ve been, but realizing how far my mom has come makes the trip down memory lane worthwhile.
I’ve learned to appreciate and care about my family so much more. There are few teenage girls who feel they are lucky to have the family members that they have, and now I am one of those few. There’s no way that I am thankful for cancer, but while it’s a huge part of my life I need to somehow turn it into a positive thing.
Everyone has a story, and as a journalism student it’s my job to write about those stories. I decided to turn the tables on myself, not for pity or for attention, but for you— the guy or girl reading this right now who experiences my story firsthand every day when you go home. You are not alone, and the worst thing I did at first was think that I was.
Don’t underestimate the power of what it means to livestrong. Every time I glance down at my bracelet, I’m reminded of my mom and how my love, support, and encouragement make all the difference in the world to her.
Some say I wear my heart on my sleeve, but they’re wrong. I wear it on my wrist.
Thinking of you,