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Love not Bravery This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "Thattook a lot of bravery. You should be very proud," say people when they findout what I did. I don't really understand why they say that, though. I would doanything for someone I love.

I was in seventh grade when we found out mybrother, Matt, had leukemia. Our former "normal life" turned intohospital visits and, scariest of all, chemotherapy. From the moment Matt wasdiagnosed, my family and I lived a life of worry. Every night I prayed,"Please God, help Matt to survive." And every morning I thanked Him forhelping Matt through the night.

Matt was the bravest of all. His strengthand humor carried my family through this difficult time. Although colds, feversand side effects kept Matt in the hospital for weeks and months at a time, he wasalways the first to crack a joke and make someone smile. When chemotherapy madehis hair fall out, he used that as the basis for most of his jokes.

"Look what I can do," he would say as he gently pulled out bitsof hair. Although trying to gross everyone out, he always made people laugh.Doctors and nurses never left his room because they were either caught up in oneof his jokes, or they were trying to beat him at Nintendo.

Matt's canceractually provided for a fun social life in the hospital, which made histreatments more enjoyable. Soon after his initial diagnosis, Matt went intoremission for almost two years. Those two years were scary, but Matt's attitudemade it bearable.

But then, as Matt anxiously awaited the day he couldstart school with his class for the first time in years (and I looked forward tostarting my first year in high school), my parents gave us the bad news.

"The cancer is back," they said, "and a bone marrowtransplant is the only possible cure." We found out we had to move to Bostonfor the next few months and stay at the Ronald McDonald House. I would have tomiss the most important weeks of high school.

I knew my concerns aboutmissing school were trivial, especially when I realized Matt needed a donor. Iclosed my eyes tight as the nurse drew blood from my arm. "It's rare to havea match in the family," the doctor commented as they tested my sister and meto see if we were compatible.

My family and I sat in the waiting room,anxious to hear the results. When Dr. Gillian walked into the room, you couldalmost see my heart beating through my shirt.

"Danielle, you andSamantha are both perfect matches," she said. Matt, my sister, and I all hadidentical bone marrow. We were so thankful that Matt had not only one match, buttwo. I was chosen as the donor because I was older.

The procedureincluded a three-hour operation that would leave me in pain for a few weeks. Iwasn't nervous about the surgery, what scared me were the statistics on how manyof these transplants actually worked. All we could do was wait and havefaith.


Matt was admitted to his isolation room, and after he hadseven days of preparation, I went into surgery. A doctor held my hand as I fellasleep, then doctors took bone marrow from my lower back. When the surgery wasover and the anesthesia wore off, I was surrounded by friends and family.

Although I was weak after the operation, I desperately wanted to see mymarrow entering my brother's body. The nurse put me in a wheelchair and broughtme into Matt's room. Before I passed out, I caught a glimpse of my gift in an IVbag, flowing into Matt's chest. Although I have never felt as sick as I did atthat moment, it was the most special moment of my life. It symbolized the gift oflife.

Week by week, and month by month, Matt's blood counts began toclimb. His body was rebuilding itself. My bone marrow had found its way to giveMatt new life.

Today, three years later, Matt is 13 years old. I amthankful that I was able to give my brother another chance.

Thisexperience helped me understand what is important in life. I was forced to growup a bit faster than most of my friends, but I never thought I would have thechance to save someone's life. That was a blessing. Matt is a normal youngerbrother, and a pain at times. Although I get frustrated when he teases me, Irelax and remember the special connection that we share.




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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