This I Believe

chris - webster, New York
Entered on March 1, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: illness, work

Within the past year, I have witnessed my grandfather’s battle with cancer, and I believe cancer sucks. Obviously, this has been a difficult time for him. However, the optimistic attitude he has displayed during this treatment and diagnosis that would crush the spirit of others has been remarkable. I remember one cool, autumn night in midst of radiation therapy my mother was on the phone with him. She asked if I would like to talk to him for a bit before she hangs up like she always does. After speaking to him for a bit, the only emotion I could detect was hope. He had hope that this treatment, despite the physical toll it was currently taking upon his body, was giving him a shot at life. His voice was soft, and the connection was pretty poor, but his attitude was clear, even if his words were not.

Thankfully, the grueling treatment is now over. At the last family gathering on Christmas Eve, he was full of life. As the entire family sat around the room, which was littered with scraps of wrapping paper and sweaters of nearly every hue, he entertained himself by putting my younger brother in a choke-hold and telling me to “take a shot” at him and hurling pillows at the kids across the room. Whenever someone was hit by one of the flying pillows, he would always blame whoever was sitting next to him, whether it was I or my grandmother. It was incredible seeing him back to his former, exuberant self. Who knew that after growing up during the Great Depression, defending our country during the Second World War, and now struggling with a cancer diagnosis that one could remain so light-hearted?

The work ethic and determination that I have carried over from my grandfather, along with other members of my family, has been a huge benefit in my life. This strength has allowed nearly every aspect of my life to be improved. Perhaps the area of my life that these benefits have been most prevalent is in my running. Thankfully, in distance running, hard-work trumps all, even talent. Since my freshman year, I have been able to improve from 120th in the county to 14th.. I attribute this 100% to the work ethic that pushed me through the 15 mile runs, through the four months in which I never took a day off, through, through the fields and up and over the hills that seemed like mountains, all while emerging as a strong runner and a stronger person. Later in life, I expect this work ethic to carry me even further. Whether it be a raising a family, in college, or battling any unexpected obstacle that crosses my path, I can only hope to show a fraction of the courage and strength I have seen my grandfather display. In life, I believe nothing can stop you if you’re truly willing to fight for it.