The other day I was super jealous of my friends and how they can be carefree, have boyfriends, and just be teenagers. Since having cancer, I’ve had to be careful about everything and sometimes it, in teenage words, sucks. Sometimes I just want to be a normal teenage girl without cancer and without all the constant worries I have.
That thought is quite ungrateful because I should always remember that I’m grateful to be alive and that I shouldn’t take that for granted, especially because many people are not as lucky as I am.
On October 13, 2015, my life changed in the most dramatic way I could imagine. The world as I knew it was over and in that moment, I knew my life would never be the same. On the 13th, I was diagnosed with cancer; Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia to be exact. When the doctor came in and told me, I literally could not breathe. It’s a crazy feeling when you feel as if you know how your life is going to go, but then life says, “Nope, you are wrong.”
Once diagnosed, I was immediately put into treatment. I was taken out of school and started homeschooling which seems easy, but is not when you miss seeing your friends everyday. I felt like my life was on pause while everyone else was still living their lives.
Throughout my treatment, I did meet many amazing nurses and doctors who helped me with the transition. During the first phase induction, I developed a blood clot which meant I would have to give myself a shot twice a day. I was heartbroken because it hurt and I bruised myself often. It was my mom who was my rock through everything. She helped me with the shots, kept up on all of my medications, and always made sure I was eating and drinking enough.
The second phase was more excruciating and I ended up in the hospital for a big bulk of the stage. During my stay, I had a fever of 105 degrees and was absolutely miserable. Making things worse, I had to get a walker when I developed lag foot.
At the beginning of the third phase, I lost about 40 pounds since being diagnosed and my next “accessory” was a feeding tube that went through my nose, down my throat, and into my stomach. Who would have believed that its existence actually started to make things look up. I was getting stronger and my legs were even getting better through physical therapy. My hair even started to grow back! I was thrilled. All of the good that happened in Phase 3 though, made Phase 4 so much harder.
It was my junior year and in Phase 4, I was getting weak and once again, I was losing my hair. Thankfully, I was able to attend prom with my best friend Abby who was another constant ray of sunshine in my life. She makes me see the light at the end of the tunnel when I am focusing on the darkness.
I have finally made it to maintenance which is so much easier. I clearly had a challenging year and it will be with me forever, but it did make me stronger. It made me a fighter. Though my fight isn’t over, I know I’ll be a survivor. I also made a resolution for 2017 to practice gratitude.
In life, there are many things I am grateful for: For starters, I’m grateful for my mom; she is my rock. Without her, I wouldn’t be where I am today. One day, I hope I can be half the mom she is to my children.
Another member of my family I am grateful to have in my life is my puppy, Gidget. She is my world. When I look at her, my heart completely melts! When I was still recovering from chemo, I got her, and she completely changed my life.
While still on the subject of family members, I am so grateful to my grandma. She made it possible for my brother and me to have a childhood full of love and happiness. We’ve all lived together for about 12 years and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
The next family member I’m so grateful for is my brother, Shane. He might be a huge pain sometimes but he is one of my best friends and I know he always has my back 100%.
The last family member I’m going to mention, even though I could go through my whole family pointing out how amazing they all are, is my aunt Claudette. She is another one of my best friends.
Finally, there is my best friend, Abby. Where to start? She is my best friend in the entire world. We have been friends since 7th grade, and I know we’ll be friends until we’re old and gray. She has been by my side through the best and worst times of my life. She loves me for who I am.
I am thankful for Girl Scouts which I have been apart of since the age of 6. It has brought so many experiences and friends that I will be grateful for for the rest of my life.
Another club I am grateful for is drama club. It was a place I was able to be myself and step out of my comfort zone. I found that I love acting and I found that I shared that love with a lot of other people. Those people became such close friends and people I could count on to not judge me and let me be me.
I am thankful for the most amazing nurses. They were a light through all the darkness I was in. When I was in the hospital, which happened a lot throughout the past year, they did their best to make me feel as at home and as happy as possible. I’m truly grateful for them because they truly made my life so much easier.
The last person I’m grateful for is Mr. Madigan who was my homebound teacher last year and someone I truly know I can count on. He volunteered to be my homebound teacher when he didn’t have to and I couldn’t be more grateful. He is one of the main reasons I will be able to graduate on time and with my class, which means the world to me.
To all of you. Thanks! Shelby 🙂