It has been too long since I last updated you all, I have been so busy. Today I decided there were too many things to report to wait another day.
I'll start by sharing that yesterday my 6 month MRI came back clear! It was about this time last year that I was asking every person who came into my hospital room "When will I be able to walk on my own?" No one had an answer. Well today was the answer because today was the first day I walked without my cane all day at school. I knew it was time to stop using the cane when I was leaving it in classrooms and carrying it more than walking with it. By the end of the day I actually felt better. The cane made me walk with a slight limp, but today I was forced to walk normally.
I've been home from the convention in sunny San Diego for about 2 weeks and it's high time I filled you in on that experience. Wonderfully magnificently amazingly fantastic doesn't even scratch the surface on how great this trip was. As usual the Sunshine Kids people were amazing. Us kids certainly got the rock star treatment. There were 7 kids between last year's and this year's spokeskids. By the second day I felt like I had known these people forever, we completely clicked. I bonded more closely with them in 4 days than with anyone on my Orlando trip. We had such a fun time and continue to correspond with each other. The Sunshine Kids did what they do best: make cancer go away, and replace it with fun. I am forever grateful to this organization for giving me something I couldn't get anywhere else. They are simply the best.
My last bit of fun news came this afternoon when I got a call after school. It was from the Seattle Times letting me know that I had won 2 tickets to see the musical Billy Elliot next Wednesday night. I was one of three winners in an essay contest. The task was to right a 500 word essay about beating the odds. I thought I would share my essay with you:
I am graduating on time, with my class. That may not sound like a huge accomplishment; thousands of teenagers do it every year. For me on the other hand, it is the most difficult thing I have ever done. My struggle began October of my sophomore year when I began to have terrible migraine-like headaches. After taking migraine medication for two weeks without any progress, my doctor ordered an MRI and I am so lucky he did. I had a Twinkie-sized mass and fluid in my brain. The mass turned out to be a cancerous tumor. First, I had surgery to remove the tumor which was the easiest part of my whole ordeal. A few weeks later I had my first of 30 rounds of radiation. While doing all of that I was also trying to keep up with school through a home tutor. By the time radiation finished I was worn out, but I was only half way done, I still had six months of chemotherapy to complete. Now, what are the odds that after my first chemo I’d be attacked by a deadly flesh-eating infection? Pretty low you’d think. Well that wasn’t the case; my calf and thigh were attacked by the nastiest infection imaginable. I had ten operations, two weeks of hefty antibiotics, countless bags of blood products and a six week stay in a hospital bed. Before I left the hospital I had to face another round of chemo. It’d be safe to say I was a bit gun shy after the events that followed my first chemo.
All told I hardly walked for eight weeks prior to starting physical therapy. During my time at the hospital I decided that there was no way I could still try to do school, so I did not finish the second semester of my sophomore year. All summer, the start of school loomed over me. Would I have enough energy to make it through the day? Would all of the cancer treatment affect my learning ability? How would I navigate the crowed halls of my high school with a walker? When school began this year I had little to no hope that I could graduate on time. I was a junior taking mostly sophomore classes and I was physically struggling to get through the day. I had underestimated myself. By November I had switched from the walker to a cane and was getting straight A’s despite my absences for sickness and doctor’s appointments. At the end of first semester, in late January, I began to toy with the idea of graduating on time. I went to my counselor and we figured it out, all I had to do was take one summer school class. I overcame all the obstacles and beat the odds to graduate on time in 2012 cancer free.
P.S. Only 2 weeks until my Make-A-Wish trip to New York city!!!
Here are some pictures from my trip:
The kids with O.P. Otter at Sea World.
Meet the Kids! (Geoff, Steven, Kyle, Me, Katie, Shaq and Keyah)