Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An update, long overdue

I have been home from Orlando for two weeks now, and an update is much over due. I’ve been trying to make time to sit down and write, but I have been busy with homework, catch-up work, physical therapy, dentist appointments etc. As you may have heard the northwest has been hit by a bit of a winter storm. The snow and ice have basically shut down Seattle. Today is a snow day and I have lots of time on my hands so you’re in for a long post.

First, I know you are anxious to hear about my trip to Orlando, so I will end the suspense. It was wonderful. The weather was great, the volunteers and staff were incredible and the other kids were awesome. All the parks were amazing but my favorite (of course) was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was truly magical, I felt as if I was walking down the streets of my imagination. The park was Hogsmeade with a touch of Diagon Alley with Hogwarts watching over it all. My little group at lunch at the Three Broomsticks, I had two mugs of butterbeer and a very delicious shepherd’s pie. For those wondering what butterbeer tastes like, it is a cold root beer flavored drink with a hint of butterscotch and it’s extremely delicious! The park’s designers left no detail out. Moaning Myrtle talks and splashes in the bathroom. Mandrakes scream from a storefront window. All the paintings and photographs come to life. Like I said, magical.

Upon retuning to school I found out that my English class would be writing "This I Believe" essays. If you have been following me from the beginning you know that TIB was an assignment for my English class last year around the time I was diagnosed. You may also remember that a few minutes before brain surgery I wrote the following essay:

On Monday October 19th my English teacher introduced This I Believe and I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to write about. Ten days later I was in the hospital having a tumor removed from my brain.

When the doctor called with my results my mom answered the phone and I could hear her conversation from the other room. When I heard I just got my shoes on, printed directions to the hospital and packed a bag. Later at the hospital everyone was amazed by my laid back easy going nature. I can attribute this to two things gratitude and positivity.

In a hospital it is easy to be taken over by negative thinking. But I think that is just a waste of energy. Instead I am planning on suffocating cancer with laughter and smiles, smothering it with hope and positivity and with the love and support of my friends and family. That's not to say that I go around perpetually grinning. Sometimes it's a struggle to stay positive. That's when I just think of all I have to be grateful for. Today among other things I am grateful for non-skid socks, visiting friends and apple sauce. It's these rays of light that help me stay positive.

I know I am only at the beginning of my treatment but I can definitely say I am not putting up with Cancer; Cancer’s putting up with me!

My belief hasn't changed in the last year; it has just become more solidified. This is the essay I wrote last week:

I believe in the power of smiles and positivity. For fifteen years nothing truly challenged that belief. Then, the “Big C” came calling. When the doctors diagnosed me with brain cancer, I made a decision; a decision to smother cancer with smiles and positivity.
I believe that positivity can be infectious, because my decision to be positive encouraged the people around me to choose to be positive as well.
I believe positive doesn’t have to be synonymous with happy. It just means trying to focus on the good of a situation.
Yes, I had cancer, but at least my doctor caught it early.
Yes, I endured a harrowing experience, but in one year I found an appreciation for the important things in life that some people spend their whole lives searching for.
I believe that gratitude and positivity go hand in hand. While undergoing cancer treatment, staying positive can be difficult, but I always tried to find something to be grateful for. A day without pain. Having my favorite nurse. A card from my grandma. Sleeping in my own bed. Sitting up at a table. Eating a meal with my family. Visiting with a friend. Seeing my dog. Going outside.
I believe that smiles are the most powerful weapon. For, I witnessed one smile transform the somber expressions of worried parents into smiles as well. I saw how a simple up-turn of the lips from a stranger, lifted the spirits of an ailing child.
I believe complicated feelings can be communicated in a simple smile. I understand. I’ve been there. I wish. I hope. I care. I love you.
I believe my positive attitude had an enormous affect on the outcome of my treatment, because now I am cancer free.
I believe if smiles and positivity can help me survive cancer, they will surely help me through the rest of my life as well.
I believe that smiles and positivity killed cancer.

I love the symmetry between the two essays and feel like they bookend the most life-changing year of my life. It’s nice to see that while my life has changed, the beliefs at my core haven’t.

I definitely recommend checking out This I Believe’s website to read more essays. http://thisibelieve.org/
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Mischief Managed,

P.S. I think I will change my blogging goal from once every couple weeks, to when something blog-worthy happens.

P.P.S. I almost forgot to tell you. I have stopped using the walker and I am now walking with a cane! I’ve been using the cane since the beginning of the month and I feel great. The change is very freeing, I can move much better and navigate places I couldn’t go while using the walker. YAY!

The view from the den window
An update on the hair front


  1. Sammy,
    You amaze your old aunt as always! I just got off the phone with you and now have read your blog that you told me you updated...and now I am wiping the tears off my cheeks. You are so beautifully, AMAZING and the most gifted writer.You said it all perfectly...
    I love you!!
    Aunt Katie

  2. One of my favorite lines from your essay:

    "I believe positive doesn’t have to be synonymous with happy. It just means trying to focus on the good of a situation."

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again because it is so true: You are incredible Sammy. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us all. Congrats on the cane-upgrade and the hair is looking good :) Take care dear!

    ~Kat Selby

  3. Hi Sam,
    We just got to Aunt Katies a little while ago and Ive been reading your posting and it was GREAT. Grandpa and I are going to go to computer classes after the first of the year. Then hopefully we will be able to buy a computer and then I'll be able to check on you all the time.I also checked on some of the old postings and it looks like you had a GREAT time in Disney World. Hope you have a good time in Colorado and I'll call you after you get home.
    Love, Grammie