Reality 101 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   So, there I am, in my Mickey Mouse Johnny with the open back that is so small that it doesn't meet in the middle. I'm lying flat on my back in an off-white, seemingly immaculate room in the Emergency Ward at Boston's Children's Hospital. Images float by my eyes. First I see my mother, holding me close to her heart as she slowly rocks me to sleep. Next comes my family at my eighth grade confirmation. I can see the look of pride and delight shining in my mother's eyes. Then finally, I see my mother, dressed in black, staring at my body through tired, tear-filled eyes.

"God, please don't let me die!"

That was September 1, 1989. I was diagnosed with Leukemia. I was told I had a 90% chance of remission and a 72% chance of complete cure. I, being the positive person I was, saw this as a 28% chance of dying. Now I may have mumbled that I wanted to die dozens of times before, but I never thought I'd be taken seriously. It was something I said when I was upset or annoyed. Doesn't everyone? "God, please don't believe it's true. I'm only 16. I want more. I want a lot more."

Then, the undeniable hit me. I'm going to lose my hair. It took me four years to get my hair just the way I wanted it, long and curly. Now it's all over. What will people think? What will my friends say? What will I look like? Who would want to be seen with a sick, skinny bald girl? Sure, I could get a wig, but everyone knows that wigs don't ever look real. Everyone will know. What am I going to do? Well, here's what I did.

I realized that I had no control over what was going to happen to me. Don't get me wrong, I didn't accept that for a long time. I kept fighting it. I kept saying things like, "This isn't fair. What did I do to deserve this? Why is God doing this to me?" Then, I stopped caring altogether. I figured why should I bother? It's stronger than I am. I can't beat cancer.

When I came right down to my breaking point, I found out that I am different. I began assuring myself that I would beat this, that I was strong. I reminded myself of all that I had to live for: my mother, my brothers, my relatives, my friends, my future. I stopped worrying about what other people would think and started concentrating on what I thought. I started living for each passing day, playing my cards as I was dealt them. I learned to appreciate the world around me. I never knew how beautiful the clouds could be!

I went into remission on September 26, 1989. I'm still going strong. n


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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