This I Believe
I believe that hope is essential to make it thru life. In society today there is so
much negativism. It is everywhere, almost inescapable. It brings me down if I listen to all
of it. I think the only reason why I am still a functional member of society is because I
still have hope. Did you ever notice how it seems small children seem to cope better than
adults. They still have hope. And they believe in magic and many other things that seem
silly to us fuddy, duddy pessimists.
I have often been accused of being a disgustingly happy, optimistic person. There
are often people who seem to get angry with me or hold it against me. It is as if my
happiness is personality flaw. It is those same people whom I believe could use a dose of
hope. There have been two instances in my life that were so impossible, so devastating
that they literally brought to my knees. I can assure I hit rock bottom. It first started when
I was seventeen years old. I was a senior in high school. I was a bubbly, healthy teenage
girl. I was very involved. I worked after school, was in cheerleading and swim team all
while maintaining good grades.
Literally, one day out of no where I woke up one morning with a golf ball size
lump in my neck. It was not there when I went to bed the night before. I had noticed
some fatigue prior to the lump, but assumed it was just due to over extending myself.
After weeks of tests and having not a clue what was wrong with me, finally I got the
answers needed. I had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, a blood cancer.
CANCER. How could this be? I was young, healthy. I was vegan and worked out. I did
not smoke or drink. No one in my family had ever had cancer. I was a nice person. This
could not be happening to me. But it was. To say that I was shocked was an
The next week I started my chemotherapy and radiation treatments. My prognosis
was very bleak. Everyone just accepted my fate, that I would not make it to graduation.
But I was not ready to die. I would live I decided. That was that, against all odds I would
beat it. I knew that I had cancer, but cancer did not have me. I worked with my doctors
and did the prescribed most aggressive treatment. I lost all my hair, everywhere. I looked
so disgusting. I kept losing weight till I only weighed 119, which was like bones with
skin for someone 5’11.
I confess to you it was not easy to have hope. I admit for the first month I
indulged in self pity, anger and hopelessness. There were many dark days. But then I
realized that there was nothing I could do now, except to pick myself up and fight. And
that is what I did. I no longer let myself listen to negativeness. If friends or family were
being negative, I asked them to not do so in my presence. I was on a mission. I had to
live. I was in the battle of my life, for my life. The only advice I had ever been given was
that attitude was 75% of the fight. My doctor told me the patients whom had no hope,
never made it.
I remember feeling so helpless at times. The only think I could control, was my
attitude .Oh, how prayed. I endlessly asked for a miracle. I diligently asked for strength.
While other kids my age were worrying with name brand clothes, and being popular, I
was literally fighting for my life. I continued to be at school everyday except on my
chemotherapy days. That was only once a week. That was crazy. When I think back on it
now, I have no idea how I did it. Somehow, I managed to complete all my homework
with 3.0 grade point average. When May came around, miraculously I was able to walk
across the stage with my peers.
I not only fought my battle with cancer one time, but twice. It relapsed in July,
2001. It was much more difficult to have hope the second time, and the treatment was so
aggressive, I was the first person at my hospital to try it. Physically and mentally scarred
from both experiences, I stand before you five years in remission. It pleases me to tell
you that less than 95% of my people who make it to five years have their cancer come
back. I know I would never be here if it had not been for hope.
Hope gave me a reason to try, even when there was no other reason. Hope is not
only helpful in major events in my life; I use it everyday even for the mundane. Life
without it is darkness. Hope is turning on the light switch. I have not met anyone who has
regretted turning on the light switch of hope. I know I never have. I am not afraid of the
dark, but I like it when the light is on.
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