The day my mother was diagnosed with cancer was my sixth week in a new school and my third month in a new state. To say this was a troubling time would be an injustice to my confusion, my fear, and most of all, the feeling of being completely alone. This feeling of isolation in my new home seems more than ironic when considering we were surrounded by family members. After all, these family members were the basis of our decision to make the move. So one can imagine my confusion, hurt, and eventually anger when these relatives played make believe and pretended they couldn’t see the bald head underneath her hat and the pale skin underneath her makeup. To this day, I cannot fully understand how they managed to simply smile and make small-talk at every family dinner during those two years. How was I, at ten years old, supposed to face this? And how was my mother, faced with the threat of her own life, supposed to deal with this, if they could not?
As soon as my mother received her first bill of clean health and entered remission she proceeded to join every volunteer program she could find. She volunteered at the Sands Cancer Center, joined several support groups, and began making pillows for other cancer patients. At first, I could not understand these actions at all. Why couldn’t she leave our painful past behind and focus on our healthy future? It is now that I understand and model my actions after these reasons. Instead of the family who should have helped us through these times, we were often forced to rely on the kindness of complete strangers. For those that simply held open a door, passed on a small smile, or merely had the common courtesy not to stare at my mother’s weakened state; it is to these people I owe my thanks. I look up to these individuals, as well as my mother, for taking the steps towards making a difference.
I learned a lifetime of lessons from those two years my mother was sick. The most important ideal I take with me, however, is my belief in simply helping whenever possible. There is no gesture too small, no insignificant advice, no thoughtful deed unappreciated. I have found it is surprising when the smallest acts of kindness have the biggest effect. It is my goal for every day to hand out this kindness and perform some act of selflessness because I believe in its power. I believe in making a difference, in doing the right thing, and in touching as many lives as possible.
I believe in compassion.
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