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Nolan’s Amazing Story This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Imagine you're out at recess, a grade-school student playing tag, trying to run away from your friend who is It. But what if you can't run away? And what if instead of a friend, you're being pursued by a disease? Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is not just an infection; it's a life-threatening disease. But there is hope. My inspiration comes from my oldest brother, Nolan, and the remarkable story of how he fought cancer and won his life back.

January 1997, Nolan was six years old and had just started first grade. The weather was dry and cold, and because of that Nolan's first nosebleed was dismissed as harmless. Little did anyone know that that symptom was the start of a whole new life for Nolan.

Daily routines continued, and no one was concerned about Nolan's little symptoms – nosebleeds, tiredness, bruising, red spots on his neck. My parents just thought their first-born active little boy was growing up. Then one morning Nolan wouldn't get out of bed. My mother could see his heart pounding through his pyjamas. She knew then that she had to take action to find the real problem with her son.

Nolan and my mother went to a clinic that afternoon. The doctor checked behind his eyelids and his fingernails, which were white, not pink as they should be. He was transferred to a children's hospital. No one knew what to expect next.

Nolan had a blood test, and the results were catastrophic. A normal white blood count was 15; his was 350. Those results combined with the other symptoms made a diagnosis. On Mother's Day, Nolan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Nolan's treatment began the next day with chemotherapy and radiation. His white blood cells had to be wiped out, which caused a blood infection and pneumonia. He fought for his life for three weeks in intensive care. He continued to receive chemotherapy and had radiation to destroy the malignant cells.

On his seventh birthday, he was still in intensive care. A few weeks later, he had a bone marrow aspiration. Nolan was finally in remission. There were no more signs of cancer.

Due to the side effects of chemotherapy, my brother was very weak and lost all his hair. He couldn't walk or even sit up. So he started physiotherapy to regain his strength. He was lethargic and really couldn't eat. He had a feeding tube inserted in his stomach. To get stronger, he had blood transfusions and chemotherapy every other week.

After months of physiotherapy, lumbar punctures, and bone marrow aspirations, Nolan could walk, play and enjoy life once again. He came home on his eighth birthday. We all rejoiced to have him home, but he still had a year of chemo­therapy to finish treatment.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society states that people diagnosed with leu­kemia have a 66 percent survival rate. We're so grateful that Nolan is part of that 66 percent. We didn't give up hope, and that's a reward in itself.

The experience has renewed my family's faith in miracles. Once a year, on Mother's Day, my family becomes a bit closer as we remember what love is really about. Our story has a happy ending, but many other families' don't. Always remember – hope, love, and live every minute. You never know what might happen next.

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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nerdyfishThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Sep. 15 at 10:30 am
This story is very touching and I almost cried. 
 
littlemisssunshine said...
Oct. 30, 2009 at 11:11 am
Thats a geat artical. you did a great job
 
Emily said...
Oct. 23, 2009 at 1:03 pm
Wow that was a realy good artical it brought tears to my eyes and im glad he made it =]
 
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