Y ou A re rabl e Men tion Hono Kara Gay 2011 el b re SoAnd ard Aw
Es say What I needed from others when I was ill: Notes from someone who has been therePlease "Understand":Understand whats going on inside of my head might be diﬀerent from whats inside of my heart.Understand that my emotions are multifaceted and complicated; I am on a constant emotional roller coaster.Understand that I worry not only about my medical status but also my social, educational, spiritual status.Understand that I see the bills come in the mail and hear the conversations about money; I too worry about my families ﬁnancial hardships created from medical bills.Understand that anger is going to rear it head at times: anger at God (why me), anger at parents (why cant you make this go away and protect me); anger at friends (why are you backing away from me); anger at siblings (why are you still doing all of the normal things when I cant).Understand that I feel lonely at times even when surrounded by others: parents who I dont think can fully understand and friends who come to visit but do not know what to say and suddenly seem like strangers.
Es sayUnderstand that I need unconditional support and love at all times: when I explode with anger, when I pout in silence, when I am physically exhausted, and, of course, when I am happy and optimistic.Understand that I need hugs at the right time but given some space at other times.Understand that I do want to talk but sometimes I just need silence (when I am too overwhelmed to talk or think about my cancer anymore).Understand that cancer is an overwhelming diagnosis for a teenager; while I have positively adapted, cancer did turn my life upside down.Understand that the scars on both sides of my neck, sternum, and stomach do aﬀect my physical appearance at an age when appearance is often given too much priority.Understand that going to the beach in a bikini is hard to deal with at times due to the stares of strangers (I can tell people are wondering what kind of surgery I must have had or what must be wrong with me).Understand how I have grown to accept my body, scars and all; I am not the insecure girl who wanted to wear only turtle necks in winter or high neck halters in summer.Understand that I get tired of hearing my cancer enter into so many conversions that my parents have with others.Understand that I want to decide my own medical path and have a say in how often and when I get follow-‐up scans or needed surgery.
Understand that I place my medical needs on the highest level, but I want to place my current life needs on a high level (when I want to delay surgery around a test at school that is really okay)Understand that I need to challenge myself physically (maybe to prove to myself that I can be normal): I do not want you to worry when I ﬂy as a high school cheerleader in a stunt; do a back handspring in a tumbling routine; decide to learn to scuba dive as my senior project.Understand that I need to experience the challenges of school on my own sometimes: let me talk to the teachers about my missed classes and assignments and dont rush in to rescue me or take over for me.Understand that I still have all of the normal teenager hormonal issues but even more ampliﬁed at times by my cancer.Understand that I want things to go back the way they used to be (I know intellectually that this is not possible while emotionally this continues to be such a strong desire).Understand that I ache because none of the boys ask me out for dates but instead ask my friends (it hurts that no one really jumps to date a girl with cancer).Understand that I hate hurting and not knowing why: (is it from internal scar tissue, from autonomic nervous system damage after surgery, from side eﬀects from chemotherapy, or from a new tumor?)Understand how hard it is to have increased dependence on parents just when I was supposed to be getting more independence.Understand that my mind often races into the future with stress: How will I keep my grades up when missing so much school? Will I still be able to go to college or get into the right college
for me? Will anyone ever want to marry me? Will I ever be able to forget about cancer and just live life like a "normal person"?Understand that I am in this ﬁght to win over cancer but sometimes I need a break from hearing the word cancer.Please, please "Understand":Understand that I want lots of time to do things and share moments that are not cancer related. Understand that I so want time to just be a teenager (not a teen with cancer), just to be a family member (not the daughter or the sister with cancer), just to be a friend (not the friend with cancer).Understand that I am determined to achieve all of my educational, career, and personal goals; I do treasure help in staying focused and positive in my journey to reach those goals.Understand that I indeed cherish prayers, love, support, and devotion that I receive from others.Understand that cancer is just a disease, and it does not deﬁne my life. Understand that I am a person who can and will overcome the obstacles created by cancer.Understand that I have received many gifts and blessings in life that have come because of the cancer not just in spite of the cancer.Understand that I love life, and I will continue to love life, ﬁght cancer, and win!Understand my whole self!Understand me!