Taylor Brooks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

February 9, 2010
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It all started with a MySpace e-mail. I was in eighth grade and checking my account for the fourth time that day when I got the message from a friend:

“Taylor is in the hospital. The doctors found a tumor in her stomach. They took a bit of it and sent it to the lab to have it tested. We are waiting to hear the results. This is really serious; she is in the ICU.”

I stopped breathing for a few moments. A couple days later we found out the tumor was cancerous. My best friend was dying.

From that moment on, I watched Taylor fight one of the deadliest cancers: stage IV desmoplastic small round cell tumor cancer. In laymen's terms, her abdomen was full of tumors growing very quickly, surrounding her vital organs. She was receiving chemotherapy, but it didn't do much to stop the tumors.

Despite the chemotherapy, vomiting, pain, and general weakness, Taylor missed as little school as possible. I remember she left chorus once to throw up,
only to return a few minutes later and continue singing. She wanted to be treated like everyone else, but at the same time, wasn't afraid to confront her illness. I, on the other hand, was terrified.

I didn't know how to be a friend to Taylor. She had lost so much weight that barely a skeleton remained. That is, except her stomach. Her skin was pale, and her lips were dry and chapped. Her chest was covered in brown scars, a result of the radiation. I was only 14 years old, and I was scared of her. I had never seen someone so sick. Because of my fears, I would change the subject when Taylor brought up her cancer, and I could tell it hurt her. But despite my obvious aversion to her illness, she never gave up on our friendship. She still came to my house, talked to me every day, and walked with me to class.

One day, Taylor didn't come to school. She was absent for two weeks straight. I found out that Taylor was at home in hospice care – she was dying. I remember feeling as if someone had punched me in the chest, but not reacting. I simply nodded and continued walking to class.

I visited Taylor a few days later. I held her hand and just sat with her, since she was unable to speak. Her legs and stomach were filled with fluid because her kidneys had stopped functioning, and she had lost all of her hair that had grown back since chemotherapy. All that remained of her was a swollen skeleton. When I got ready to leave, she wouldn't let go of my hand. The logical part of me knows that I probably moved too quickly and her motor skills didn't let go, but the emotional side of me believes she wanted me to stay. I think she was afraid of dying, despite the fact that she had refused dialysis and had chosen her fate.

Taylor died that night. At her funeral, I stood in front of a room that was so crowded it was standing-room-only, and I spoke about how she was my hero. She walked through the halls with her head held high, brown scars exposed, a beanie covering her baldness. It was only through the other eulogies that I found out Taylor had purchased Nintendo systems and laptops for the hospital rooms so other children with cancer.

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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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

Ashleigh909 said...
Dec. 1, 2010 at 9:22 pm
This is absolutley amazing. I could never imagine. You should seriously think about writing a "Based on the True Story" book about this. I mean, it would raise cancer awareness. Anyways, again, great story. It totally made me tear up.
lexi239 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 4, 2010 at 7:30 pm
wonderful homage to your friends memory. taylor sounmded like an amzing friend and inspirational person. really sad and touching.
Ashley said...
Nov. 2, 2010 at 2:40 pm
it made me cry.that was a nice story.i was looking for a story to do my school project on,book in a box. im going to use that story
Gabs(: said...
Feb. 16, 2010 at 11:40 pm
This made me cry. I think it is beatifully well written. And alot of people can relate to it.
My grandpa died of lung cancer and he was my hero. And his birthday was also APril 1St.
Stay Strong (:
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