The summer before fifth grade started out like any other. Going to camp, hanging out with friends, riding my bike all over my maze-like neighborhood, and just enjoying freedom filled summer air. I definitely wasn’t prepared for that phone call that changed everything. Before I knew it, school was starting again and my mom was jetting off to India to be with her mom. One word was being whispered around the house: Cancer.
I had heard of cancer before, but hadn’t known anyone who actually had it. I thought it was just one of those diseases that one in every million would get. My mother would call every week from India to talk to us but she never talked about my ammama, “grandmother” in Malayalam, my parents’ mother tongue. Once I asked her why ammama didn’t just pick up some medicine from the store and she explained that there was no such medicine.
Cancer is definitely not one of those diseases that one in a million people gets. After my grandmother was diagnosed, I became aware of all the other people I knew that had cancer. People like my old gym teacher, my friend’s dad, my friend’s grandmother, my other relatives and even characters in movies and books. I was beginning to realize the power of cancer, but I didn’t understand why there was no cure. “People are still searching for the cure,” my dad told me.
The beginning of fifth grade was hard for me without my mother, but it was even harder for my family in India. They were all trying to be strong for one another and didn’t say a word when my grandmother’s hair began falling. Luckily my grandmother was cured and her hair grew back, more beautiful and bouncy than ever before. But just a little while ago, she was diagnosed with cancer again. My grandmother, my mother, and everyone were so scared of going through the agony again. Their pain was obvious and heartbreaking. Being older this time, I understood because when someone you love, maybe in the same house or on the other side of the world gets cancer, everyone feels the pain.
Going through this twice taught me a lot. I think it helped me to mature and appreciate life more. My grandmother is still alive and healthy, and is still that loving and caring person that we all can’t get enough of. Sometimes life puts us up to the task of climbing the tallest mountain and I am so proud of my grandmother and all of us for reaching the top smiling.
I believe that a cure for cancer will be found. I believe that people should help in any way possible; in my case it was through donating my hair. I believe cancer has the power to tear people and their families apart. I believe that people have the power to fight back and to resist cancer, mentally and emotionally. I believe that cancer is strong, but we are stronger.
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