Antiseptic smell burns my nose. I sit there in a daze; a cloudy haze fills my every thought making my brain sluggish and unreliable. My sister sitting in the corner with bloodshot eyes staring up at me with sad desperation, an animal trapped by the clean white walls. My hand squeezed so many times I barely notice it anymore. Sitting on that bed with my paper gown, a victim of my own body.
How can she sit there like that? How can she look so small and innocent? It might be the harsh fluorescent lights or monitors surrounding her like monsters about to strike, maybe the gown, that awful hospital gown that makes a slight scratching noise as it scratches across her pale skin. Her skin, God, under her skin she is being attacked. I sit there like an idiot my eyes dried out from too many tears. I could never erase that image from my mind.
Looking back now, that was the moment that changed my life. How could it not? At the time I thought it was the end, cancer, the word of death. I was diagnosed with cancer, my own body attacking me from the inside. Eating away at my organs making me useless. I could not comprehend it, I could not process or digest this news. I sat there in my foggy world and let the minuets tick by.
Finally I snapped out of it. I was hit by the full realization. I am eighteen! I can’t die yet! I wanted to leave, escape the muted colors and failing smiles, run into the sunset and never return. I don’t want to die in this clean room. I want to experience the world I never had time for. I wanted to see my family and celebrate life! I was eighteen and not ready to leave without a bang!
My parents did not approve. My doctors did not approve. They insisted I stay, demanded I take their medication, begged for chemotherapy. No. Within a week my family hosted a party for me. Sort of a going away party, not because I was dying but because I was finally living! When I was diagnosed I made a decision. I made the choice not to let this disease control me. My family has supported me all of my life constantly protective and on my side no matter what. It was their total trust and understanding that I found the most helpful during this time. We were a unit, a group together through to the end, sooner or later. My whole family came together and surrounded me with loving arms. Aunts, uncles, cousins, they came from all over the United States to keep my spirits up and just be there.
We had a great time, a true celebration of life and family. Next, I bought a plane ticket to Gatwick international in London. I had a plan, one last adventure with my sister, to see the world. We went to London, Barcelona, and Vienna. We traveled to Slovakia, Italy and France. I never had so much fun in my entire life. We saw the world! I never thought I would make it the whole way. Mary (my sister) had to do a lot of the hard stuff. We traveled in style, hotels and shopping, spas, and beaches. There were times that were harder than others, I knew she was afraid, but so was I.
We made it, three months abroad and we made it back home. This was an even bigger party! My family and I talked. We are a unit so we decided my treatments as a unit. We were ready for a fight on this one. We went to the hospital prepared for a fight, but it didn’t come. They tested me, scanned, poked, prodded, and palpated, and found nothing. It had only been a few months since I was diagnosed. Nothing had changed, except for me. I had changed. I was surrounded by love, traveled the world and experienced life to the fullest. I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in the summer of 2008; I am cancer free and attending college in the spring of 2010. If this has inspired or helped you in any way, please help, go to www.survivingmespthelioma.com for more information