Always Make Sure to Enjoy Life

October 11, 2007
Always Make Sure to Enjoy Life, This I Believe…

Imagine 16 years of your life, keeping the most difficult secret imaginable to the people you love most. My belief evolved just one year ago. I was challenged with the shocking news that my grandma and best friend had leukemia.
Her journey started before I was born. She was a typical mother with two loving daughters and a very devoted husband. In 1989, just two months before I was born, she was diagnosed with cancer and told that she had only two to three years to live. She soon found out about a treatment facility in Minnesota. Risks were high, yet she was desperate for a cure. However, it came with a price; if she went, she wouldn’t have been there when I was born. So, she decided to decline from treatment.
My grandma had a strong determination and didn’t want this obstacle to get in her way. She refrained from telling anyone about the disease because she thought that people would treat her differently. As a result, for sixteen years she lived life with this painful secret kept inside. The only people who knew were, her two daughters, husband, and two best friends. My grandma was one of the closest people that I had in my life. I told her everything and would talk to her every single day.
By ignoring the fact that she was terminally ill, she lived every day to its best and didn’t the let little things get to her. Despite what doctors said, she amazingly lived sixteen years after being diagnosed. About four months before she died, I discovered she had Leukemia. It was heartbreaking. It seemed as if a there was a rock inside my stomach. The person who I had loved and trusted throughout my life had kept this secret from me. As we sat together that night, we had a long conversation about dealing with her secret for sixteen years. We laughed and talked just like we had done my entire life, but I knew something was different. In that moment, I realized what she’d done, she stayed so strong and determined; she accomplished the unthinkable. Because she didn’t tell anyone, she kept people from thinking of her as fragile. She didn’t want her life to change and for others to feel sorry for her. The reasoning behind the secret took me a while to grasp, but I finally realize what a strong willed person she was to be able to keep that secret all of those years. This nearly saved her life.
My story is really my grandma’s story. She was someone who didn’t give up when everything went downhill and lived every day to its best. By keeping the secret that most people wouldn’t have the courage to keep, her life didn’t become filled with pity and sadness; instead it was filled with lasting memories. Life is to be enjoyed no matter what obstacle may get in the way. This is what I believe.

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