This I Believe

Alex - Webster, New York
Entered on March 8, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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“Hey, does this outfit look okay on me?”

Those mere eight words had just completely altered my thoughts. Was a “real” 29 year old adult asking for my 11 year old opinion? Did my opinion really matter to her? Of course, I had to answer “Yes, it looks great.” I couldn’t upset this relationship, the relationship between me and Jackie.

When I was younger, I used to baby-sit for Jackie’s kids and she always did a great job of making me feel like I mattered. I would come over and be offered any food I wanted while being invited me to sit down and talk with her for a few minutes. We’d then continue to talk about my life, her life, and anything in between. During the summer, I came over to help her with the kids, but instead of making me feel like the younger babysitter, she made me feel like a trusted friend. We’d sit by the pool and watch the kids swim on those hot sunny days and I would always be treated as a close friend. She made me feel like my opinion meant something to her and because of that, I felt like she was more on my level. She was no longer a distant adult. She was my friend. From this strong friendship I have learned that a positive outlook can help in any situation.

When I first found out about Jackie’s cancer, I didn’t think much of it because I was young and didn’t comprehend the full extent of the life-threatening disease. When spending time with Jackie, I never saw her complain about the cancer or the treatments, which made me believe it wasn’t that bad.

“What do you think of this wig?” I remember her saying as she slipped it on over her short hair, while joking about being a blonde. Because of the chemotherapy, Jackie lost all of her hair, but through it all she stayed positive. How could a person go through so much and stay so strong? She beat the cancer for the first time and was once again diagnosed. Due to her remarkable strength and positive attitude, she beat the cancer again. Jackie was diagnosed with cancer for a third time. I was in absolute disbelief. I didn’t understand how a person could go through so much. Why her?

I went to Jackie’s house this past New Year’s Day to bring her dinner. The doctors have told her that the cancer has metastasized to her bones and while doing an operation to help stop the cancer, the doctors punctured her lung. “They messed up if you ask me!” she stated with a weak laugh, and of course, I agree with her; they did mess up. But sometimes I can’t help but wonder: “is that the only thing that’s messed up?” It’s not fair for the best people in the world to have to face the worst circumstances. Why do bad things happen to good -even great people?

It’s been five years since the beginning of Jackie’s journey and she’s still as enthusiastic as ever. While preparing to go out with her, she put on a pair of unreasonably high heels and I told her we’d be walking a lot and it wasn’t a good idea. She looked at me and said “girl, I have no hair, I have to make up for it somehow!” I have learned so much from her and this hearty attitude that she displays everyday of her life. She has truly become a role model to me; not because she has beaten cancer twice, but because through everything she has gone through, she’s done it with a smile on her face. Because of Jackie, I believe that a positive attitude can make anything seem better than it really is.