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The Insight Of Children This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   This past summer, I had the opportunity to volunteer at The Dana Farber Cancer Institute. At first, I did not want to volunteer there. I was afraid to deal with people who would be on the verge of dying. I knew that this would be a challenge for me, but I also knew that this was a chance of a lifetime. My mother felt that the experience would be an important one before I made the decision to study to become a doctor.

In order to begin, I decided to meet the head of volunteer services. She knew of two volunteering positions at the pediatric clinic and went on to find an opening. Soon after, I became a volunteer at the Jimmy Fund Clinic.

I was going to be placed in the company of hundreds of children, most of whom were younger and close to dying. I thought that I had bitten off more than I could chew. I thought that perhaps I should have volunteered elsewhere like all my friends. I thought that these cancer patients would depress me and change my attitude toward life, making me bitter. Actually, just the opposite happened. Instead of making life look dark, these young cancer patients brightened my life. They showed me how to live.

I found children who lived for the moment. They weren't rude or selfish. These children who, in my mind, had the right to be selfish and a little hostile were actually some of the most giving and loving children I had ever met.

That first day I played with one of the patients. His name was Ben. I will remember him for the rest of my life, because, at only three, he was one of the strongest, bravest people I have ever met. Although he screamed with all his might when he received an injection, he walked right out of the room and started to play again. He was so happy to be playing, as if he hadn't even had an injection. Ben gave me a whole new outlook on life. He was playing and so he was happy. He didn't think about his suffering, and neither should any of us.

Another little boy I saw while I volunteered was Chris. He was interviewed on WBZ-TV about his love of baseball. He was very upset about the baseball strike, and after having chemotherapy for 16 days, he still looked into the camera and pleaded for the Red Sox to play again. Many of the children at the clinic love the Red Sox. The baseball season was something fun they would look forward to. Visits from Red Sox players were always special. Suddenly, when the baseball season ended, it broke their hearts. It especially broke Chris's heart because he knew that it would be the last season he would enjoy.

At the 1994 Boston College versus Notre Dame football game, Chris was the guest of honor and got to sit on the Eagles' bench. It was especially important to Chris who died about a month later.

When I heard about Chris's death, I was very sad. I still couldn't understand how a boy of seven years could die. It didn't seem fair that he would never experience high school years, which many people say are the best. Chris was a great kid who was always having fun. He knew he had little chance to survive, but he still concentrated on the good aspects of life. He knew that he had to live for the moment. His loss affected many people and has made a great impact on my life.

I would like to live like Ben, Chris and the rest of the children at the Jimmy Fund Clinic. I have learned to value the time I have with my friends and family, because there is no guarantee that there will be a tomorrow. Through this experience, I have realized that if the glass is half empty it is also half full. fl


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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