Written by Madison Sibley of Bensalem, “Cancer Won’t Get Me Down” was the second-place winner in our 2014 Essay Contest’s middle school division. Madison (center) is pictured with her parents Karen and Wayne.
How would you feel if the most important person in your life suddenly told you that they had cancer? This is what happened to me when my mom told me the news that scared me and made me feel absolutely horrible. She has breast cancer. So many emotions came to my mind, but fear was probably the worst. I know that my grandfather died from cancer and that is all that I could think about. He died at a young age and I am sad that he has never been a part of my life. I didn’t want my mom to see me being sad. I wanted to be strong for her and let her know that I would help. I just didn’t know what I would do if I lost her.
I wondered why this happened to my family and to my mom. What did she do to deserve this? I was angry and so scared. The day she had surgery was awful. I went to school, but worried all day that about her. How did she feel, did they get the tumor out, what was the next step? I will never forget how sick she was after the operation. She had such severe pain that made it difficult for her to breathe. She was strong though, and told me not to worry that she was stronger than the disease and that she had so much life to still live.
I cannot really know what it is like to suffer with cancer like she does, but I know that it took a toll on her. She was always tired and suffered many side effects from the radiation and medication. Her daily trips to the hospital made me sad, too. I wish that I could have gone with her and made it easier, but I had to go to school. The radiation made her so tired and she suffered severe burns. It was so hard to watch her struggle. It still is. She takes medication to prevent the recurrence of the disease and the side effects are brutal. I watch her as she struggles to get up and walk, the days that she is so tired that her eyes won’t stay open for another second. I try to help as much as I can around the house and to get good grades. I want her to be proud of me like I am proud of her. Her actions speak so strongly to me. I know she will never give up. I know that people don’t understand what she is going through. They must wonder why I hold her hand to help her get up and why she gets so tired.
Her strength is what I admire so much. She never gives up and she works so hard. She never missed a day of school for her radiation treatments despite the constant battle with exhaustion. She keeps helping others, too, because she knows that she is lucky. She is alive and she has a great family and she has so much to live for. She has made me realize that I can help, too. We participate in events and activities that support cancer research. I know that it is not much, but she tells me that she doesn’t want one other person to have to go through what she has gone through. I don’t want to see that either.
I am one of the lucky ones. My family is strong and we are close. My mom is determined and she won’t let me slack off. She would never let me use her illness as a reason to act up or to do poorly in school. She gets up every day and teaches me to be positive and to help others. She wants me to be a good person and be the kind of person that others look up to. That is what I want to be, too. I have learned that no matter how bad it is, others may have it worse.