Friday, November 19, 2010

A Cancer Survivor!

Ashton, one of the Make-A-Wish youth wrote this essay for his school class. It is definitely a tear-jerker and opens your eyes to what these kids face when they are diagnosed.

How I Overcame Cancer
It was a hot day in July, and I had just finished my 8th grade year in school and I was 14. Even though I had to quite skateboarding and other sports because of being dizzy and my bad headaches, I was excited for the summer ahead of me. Transformers 2 had just come out and I was going to make sure I was there for opening day. I had wanted to see this movie for 2 weeks. My grandma, my grandpa, my little brother Chris and I were in our seats 10 minutes before it started at 6:45pm. I even snuck in 2 Rice-Krispie treats for the show. I can still remember my exact seat in the theater: Row 10, seat 3. As the movie began, the graphics and special effects impressed the audience around me, but they were not as good for me as I would have hoped.
At 11:30 pm, on July 6th 2009, the opening day of Transformers 2, I found out I was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma (a brain tumor).
As I sat in the movie theater, the sound and special effects made my head feel like it was going to explode. I only watched about fifteen minutes of the movie and the rest of the time, my head was in my lap. Even though, I was sad that I didn’t get to see the entire movie; I was more worried about my health. I knew that there was something wrong, but I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want anyone’s help and I thought that it might have been just another migraine. When the movie ended we headed to the parking lot. As we were walking to the car, I was walking really unsteady and my grandma put her arm around me to help me walk. My stomach started hurting. Once we got to the car, I started puking and that made my head hurt even more. I started crying and telling my grandma and grandpa how bad it hurt. By this time, my grandma knew something was wrong with me. She told my grandpa to take my brother home, and then the two of us headed to the hospital.
When I got to the ER I was put in a room waiting for the doctor. All I had to puke in was the trashcan. I was scared, anxious, angry, confused, and all over sad waiting to take tests. I finally took three tests. I had a blood test, a urine test, and a CAT scan. Finally, after waiting 3 hours, the doctor came in and told me the results. I was surprised, shocked and broken hearted. My grandma and I cried together. After the doctor left, I was put into another room upstairs and after awhile I fell asleep in the hospital.
The next morning at 7:30 they took me for an MRI and at 10:30 the Dr. came in to see me and tell me about the surgery. I asked him if I was going to die. He said “No I don’t think so but I can’t say for sure” At 12 noon I went in for surgery, to remove my brain tumor. The surgery took 7 hours and they had to remove a part of my skull to get to the tumor. After I was done with my surgery I woke up in the MRI machine and didn’t know where I was, and I was strapped down to the bed and had a tube in both arms a, tube in my top of my head to drain the fluid, a tube in my foot and one in my neck. I was terrified! I spent two days in intensive care of which I don’t remember much of other then I was scared and angry and didn’t want anyone around me but my grandma and grandpa, and then my mom arrived from Texas and I was glad. I spent a week in the hospital where they gave me some pain medicine that made me see red bugs crawling on my bed and I thought my nurse walk in through the wall. After coming out of the hospital I had two weeks before the radiation started. I had to go to LDS hospital everyday for 6 weeks and get my head strapped down face first to the table for about 15 to 30 minutes at a time. And every Friday after doing that I had to go to Primary Children’s to get a chemo drug called Vincristine. It was supposed to make sure that all of the cancer was gone from my body. One of the side effects is called “Dropfoot”. This took the use of my arms and legs away from me. It stared out just affecting my feet making them drag and making my knees weak, and then gradually went to my ankles. I started out using a walker and then I was then put in a wheelchair. After the next treatment, I lost the use in my right arm and part in my left. I was forced to use my left hand because my right was not working. My eye sight started blurring over, and I started seeing double. I already had dyslexia, and now with my double vision, reading was almost impossible. I was forced to depend on everyone for everything no matter what is was.
I had been through 6 weeks strait of radiation. This gave me such a bad sore throat that it cut off my esophagus almost entirely. All I was able to do was drink water and I could not eat. This was bad because it dropped my weight down from 230 down to 165 in a matter of 6 weeks. The doctors threatened to put a feeding tube in me if I didn’t gain weight. I was so underweight that I was just skin and bones. I looked so pale I almost looked like a ghost. I had to miss most of my 9th grade year making me fall far behind my friends. But the principal and some of the teachers and students would come to visit me at my house and even came on my birthday and brought me a cake and presents.
I did those 6 weeks of outpatient chemo and then I had to do another 9 sessions of in the hospital chemotherapy. I would usually sleep the whole time I was there and would have to stay overnight because it takes 6 or 7 hours for the chemo to drip and then I had to have 12 hours of fluids to flush it out of my kidneys. The first one was actually kind of funny. At the end of the session, I was walking out; I had my hood on, my cop sunglasses, and big heavy steel toed boot on. I had lost my hair from radiation, and was walking a little bit like Frankenstein, and a little girl saw me and screamed because she was scared. That was the best part of the day. Chemotherapy changed my perspective on life because it made me question my ability to survive.
This experience has made me think about what life has to offer, and how short life really is. It made me question a lot of things that I used to do, what things I want to do in the future, and what things I can do now. It made me question people, how they used to treat me, and how they pity me now. It makes me feel bad that people don’t really see what I am capable of, and they think that just because I am in a wheel chair, I can’t manage to do things alone.
It has now been about a year and a half since my diagnosis. I finished with Chemotherapy, and radiation on October 8th 2010, the day before my 16th birthday. When I look back on those times, and see how I was and it makes me stronger. I do miss my old life, but I know there is more to come. My mom now lives in Utah, closer to me. I love knowing that I overcame cancer. I am excited to walk again. I am excited for life in general. In July, the two year anniversary of my diagnosis, I will be on an Alaskan cruise with my family thanks to Make-A-Wish. I am a survivor.

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