As a freshman in high school, cancer did not mean anything to me. So when my mom told us that my brother had cancer, it was a very humbling experience. She threw around menacing words like “osteosarcoma”. What would this mean for my brother’s future? The word cancer doesn’t mean a thing to the majority of teenagers, but I know the evil behind the word and watched it bulldoze my family. My brother, the toughest and bravest person I know, suffered terribly through a year of intensive chemotherapy and five traumatic surgeries that left him handicapped. When I would visit him and walk through the children’s oncology wing at Yale New Haven Hospital, I would feel like a ghost. I observed patients in their most private suffering, but they would look through me as if they didn’t even see me. The more I walked down that hallway, the more I learned what is important in life. Not the newest Xbox or coolest iPhone app, but helping others and making life the best you can because it can be taken from you in short notice. I was often home alone freshman year because my parents were always at the hospital. It was a difficult time for me to be alone, but going to the hospital was even worse. I prayed a lot. My brother stayed in the hospital all week and was able to come home on weekends. My room is next to his, and I would lay awake trying to hear if he was ok.
My brother’s cancer beat the ignorant teenager right out of me and gave me a new perspective on life. When life hands you an obstacle, look it in the eye and push through it instead of burying yourself under the pressure. If you take trials as a learning experience, you can carry that strength for the rest of your life.