Y ou A re Aylw ard Pat rick 2011 el re So b orab le Me ntionAnd ard Aw Hon
A bo ut On the surface, Patrick is the stereotypical eighteen year-‐old: A vibrant young man ready to take on the rigorous demands of college life. Yet, four years ago, his stereotypical existence was shattered the day he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. “When I ﬁrst found out I was sick, I was in denial. It was surreal,” said Patrick. The medical professionals at Yale-‐New Haven Hospital in Connecticut were quick to take action. “The support from the medical staﬀ made my illness tolerable,” notes Patrick. “They are apart of my family now because you cannot go through an ordeal such as cancer and not be thankful for all that they did to help me get better.” When asked what advice he had for others who were going through an illness, he said to remain patient and remember that it is only a small fraction of your life. Thanks to the support of his family and the care he received at Yale-‐New Haven Hospital, Patrick is now is remission and “loving life.” Currently a freshman attending St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Patrick plans on pursuing a degree in Political Science. He is looking forward to what this next chapter in life has in store for him.
Es sayWhat an Everyday Person Should Know About an Adolescents Cancer Journey to Health Now that I have ﬁnally ﬁnished my long journey of going from a cancer patient to a cancer survivor, I feel that I should share some of my insider knowledge about what you REALLY should know about an adolescents road to survival. What you need to understand is that cancer is not just a disease. Cancer is a lifestyle that you must bow to until it is literally out of your body. What I mean by this is that from the second the doctor diagnoses you, cancer is all that is ever on your mind from the second you wakeup until the time you fall asleep. And if you are lucky, its not also while you are sleeping. I want to make it clear that this is not just because you are scared; this is because every person you see will ask you about your cancer, any activity that you plan will be aﬀected by your cancer, and even THOUGHTS are aﬀected by your cancer. At one point, instead of thinking of myself as a teenage boy, I thought of myself only as a cancer kid. In my eyes, this right here is the number one cause of setbacks in cancer patients, because if you start to get a negative mindset, your body reacts to that in the same negative way. Keeping a positive attitude is a cancer patients full time job. If you think that going through cancer would be a time that strengthens all of your relationships with your friends and family, you are sorely mistaken. Yes this is true for some of your relationships, and truly does show who your closest friends are, but you are also going to see that some people who you though were your closest friends just disappear. This is when you see that cancer patients are mentally some of the strongest people on this planet. Not only must they deal with the mental stress of ﬁghting for their life, but also at the same time they have to deal with losing the people they thought they could trust the most. And in a time like this, when they have every right to be resentful, somehow they must ﬁnd a way to let it go and just move forward. For example, I found myself watching my own friends mentally breakdown because of me. Yes this shows how much they care about me, but it also meant I had to worry about them on top of worrying about myself. I had friends that would call me three times a day yet I never talked to them because when I would answer the phone I would hear sobbing and then the "click" of the phone hanging up on me. One of these times, the mom called me back a minute later to say she was sorry, but "Kate cant work up the courage to talk to you." If you have never had this happen to you, I hope it never does. Never in my life have I ever felt so helpless and confused. Since when does my best friend have to work up courage to talk to me? Its times like these that you will never forget, but they also remind you of just how strong you really are.
Cancer can be a time of extreme loneliness. When people ask me about the darkest time I had during my treatment, I instantly think of my ﬁrst night in the hospital. There I was lying in a hospital bed for the ﬁrst time ever. I was dripping wet in sweat, listening to the beeping of the heart monitors and I look over at the clock and see that it is 2 A.M. For the ﬁrst time in about 16 hours I was ﬁnally alone, no more doctors and no more people asking me how I feel. I knew I wasnt going to be able to fall asleep that night; I was just waiting for my ﬁrst surgery at 7 A.M. which would be followed by my ﬁrst round of chemo. This was when I had that daunting question in my head, "why me?" I had never done anything bad; I even went to church frequently; I mean, there are so many bad people out there that this couldve happened to instead! And then to top it oﬀ, I knew my friends were at home as healthy as could be and sound asleep in their own comfy beds. This was when I decided I was going to do what ever it took to get myself healthy so I would never again have to experience that kind of loneliness. By now as you are reading this, you probably think that there is nothing positive that could come out of this experience, but you are wrong. Some of my best memories and relationships are because of going through cancer. All of my nurses and doctors I now consider my family. All of the time and hardships that I have gone through with them has made a bond that is unbreakable. I realized all of this on the day that is now more special to me than even my birthday ~ my ﬁnal day of chemo! Finishing 3 1/2 years of chemo is very much like earning a badge of honor. I had just won my own war, and a war that many people dont always win. The reward is that I can now start my life over as a "normal" person, and ﬁnally start feeling good again with no worries. I remember starting to feel tears come on but could not understand why. There is a tidal wave of emotion that hits you that I cannot describe with words. You will never understand how powerful it is unless you have experienced it yourself. This day of triumph is what makes your years of ﬁghting and pain all worth it. You realize that the person you are at this time is 100 times stronger than the person you were when you started. This is why I say that cancer was one of the best things that ever happened to me