The Day I Got Released and Confined | My Family Travels
Me with My Favourite Nurse, and Case Nurse

April 1, 2013 – to most people this date is not important; they just brush it off as a day that people try to play tricks on other people. To me this is the date of my liberation, but also the day that I got psychologically sentenced to life, no parole.

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December 6, 2010 – my first incarceration. On that day I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia or ALL. I was 10. For 21/2 years I was subjected to a prison sentence consisting of chemotherapy, surgeries, hair loss, pills, and radiation.

On April 1, 2013, around 8 o’clock, I rode to the Children Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). I was ecstatic as I took the 15 minute car ride to CHEO. 30 minutes later I was greeted by the familiar clinical smell and beeping sounds of the Medical Day Unit (MDU), thinking, “This is the last time I will be a cancer patient because I will come out of here a survivor.” Soon, I would be in my clinic room with the stereotypical thin sheets, IV pole, and squeaky mattress. Shortly thereafter, I was on an elevator going to my very last intravenous chemo and spinal tap. Fast forward 5 hours – I was walking down the MDU hallway for the last time as a cancer patient and when I reached the end doctors, nurses, and volunteers ambushed me with cheers, applause, and a red bell to ring. I rang that bell so loud people on the six floor must’ve heard me! I was free. Free from poison being infused into my body. Free from having to take up to 25 pills a week. Free from being bald. Yet, with all this liberty I was still chained to the fact that I will never be free from one thing: chronic worrying about everything.

My cancer diagnosis has let me grow in a way that I don’t think would have been possible any other way, because of many things but three things really stand out. First, it has taught me about putting things in perspective and not taking every hardship as the end of the world or a setback that I could never recover from. I have had to realize that not every mistake I make is detrimental, and that I can move on and become a better person because of that mistake. Now, I did not get this epiphany immediately after finishing my cancer treatment, but it helped me progress to the point that I recognized it. Second, it taught me to appreciate the little things. I have learned to laugh a lot, especially at very miniscule things, like the way my mother says something, or the way my train of thought runs. Third, it has given me a reason to be thankful that I get to worry about upcoming assignments and the stresses that are associated with life, because I could be worrying about whether or not I would wake up in the morning. I know all these reasons seem very cliché but they are extremely real and very important to me.

This never-ending rollercoaster trip, to put it mildly, will always make me appreciate how lucky I am to be alive with hardly any long-term side effects. However, I am a human being and I do suffer from “The grass is always greener on the other side” syndrome. Several times I have to remind myself just how lucky I am. All people are lucky, in some way, if they took time to examine their lives and find the happiness and the freedom they are given. 

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