Her eyes. They looked at me with love and sympathy, even though I had just met her. She stopped my pain, my suffering with just a pinch of a needle. A needle that took me into a whole separate reality. My whole body let go, there was not a care in the world. The sun warmed me and the clouds danced with the sweet melody of the wind. I could almost see the wind and the butterflies dancing in complete harmony. Love, perfection and laughter were in the air. Is this what heaven is like? Later my eyes opened and fear ran through my body.
Earlier that day, I sat anxiously at the doctor’s office. My doctor had just left the examining room. She said she would be right back. Pain ran up my legs and I doubled over sending more pain throughout my body. My eyes were puffy and my vision was blurry. My mom laid her hand on my back and I stayed curled over afraid of the pain that would come if I moved. The sound of high heels echoed in my mind and my pediatrician rounded a corner. I stood up straight ignoring the excruciating pain. Dr. Robertson set her hand on my shoulder, looked down at me and said something that made my heart skip a beat. “Here’s the address for Children’s Hospital in Seattle.” She handed my mom a sticky note that contained the address to a place I have only heard of on TV or in the newspapers.
The car ride to Children’s seemed to take an eternity. I watched the beauty of the world slip by. My doctor’s voice replayed in my mind. The way she spoke told me that something was terribly wrong. Once we arrived at the Hospital I slumped down in the waiting room chair while my mom checked us in. “Hi, we are here from Pediatric Associates for blood tests.” A pause. “Natalie Smith.” “I don’t know, the doctor said it may be an eye infection. It’s something close to her brain so it sounds serious.” I heard her say to the secretary. I tapped my finger on the edge of my chair; the beat is the only thing I hear. I look straight ahead at a sign that read:
CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL, EMERGENCY ROOM
The words scared me, my heart was beating and anxiety was running through my veins. “Nat, it’s going to be okay, it’s just a bad infection.” She takes my hand and squeezes it. “I know Mom.” Those words burned in my throat because I didn’t know. I didn’t know if I would ever be “okay” again. This is the worst pain I have ever felt. A swinging door flung open and a young, smiling nurse walked out. I pivoted my head and the pain surging through my body made me wince. “Natalie Smith.” She said. I sat there, frozen in my seat until I finally got up and the nurse, my mom , and myself walked into a place of unknown. And that scared me.
The clock moved painfully slow. Every second felt like hours. I would wait until another shooting pain came up my legs and through my body. I looked straight at the big, plaster door in the hospital examination room. My Mom ran her fingers through my hair. She kissed my forehead and went to sit down in the chair next to my examining bed. A sound of a door opening startled me back into reality. A tall man looked into the room and gestured my mom to come along with him.
Behind the man stood that same smiling nurse who walked us to the room and took my blood. I couldn’t be more exhausted and yet she, somehow just made me want to smile. Through all that pain, I wanted to smile. She lifted my frail body into the wheelchair after my mom and the unfamiliar man left. She smiled at me as she knelt down and said everything was going to be fine. She was pretty and she had a nametag that read Chelsea. “Here sweetie, it will only be a little pinch.” She took the needle and searched for a vein in my arm. The pain built up from the needle, let go, and my world faded back into my own world where pain and suffering weren’t relevant.
I was back in the sun, in the silky grass. The grass tickled my skin and the gentle breeze felt like a blanket on my body. My morphine induced world faded and my pain returned. My eyes opened to an unfamiliar place. My whole body was in pain and there were more bruises. My body felt foggy, exhausted. My mind longed for something familiar. I shifted position and pain surged through me. I moved my eyes around the room to fulfill my longing for a familiar world.
Even though the room was filled with things I’ve seen before, I felt like I was on Mars. There was a couch, a rocking chair, and a small kitchen. The sound of a door opening made me jerk and caused the pain to flow through my body again. He had a coffee in his hand, he looked tired and his face was puffy from crying. My dad saw me awake and his face brightened with love and strength to stay strong for me. “Hey Nat,” he said and he set his coffee down on the table as he took a seat next to me. Before I could respond, I drifted back into mindless thoughts.
Morphine. It was the morphine that had me drifting in and out of a completely different reality. It hit me and my whole world cleared up, the weight of the painkiller had been lifted. I knew where I was. I was in the hospital, the same place I was last night. I opened my eyes and looked back to my dad to ask the question that has been burning in me for the last two weeks. “What’s wrong with me?” It took all my strength to let out those four words. I waited and watched my dad’s face be reminded of something. My dad said, “You have Cancer.” The words took me to a place I have never been before. A place of grief and hopelessness. Why me? Will I die? There is so much I haven’t done. Who knew a simple word could completely turn a normal life around.
Balloons, cards, gifts, and people came and left, but one thing that never left was the determination my family had to fight and win the battle against this vicious disease. We had to change our lives because of this disease. Cancer no longer was a word meaning death. It was just a word meaning a fight, a fight that I could win. We became a stronger family and a closer one as well. All of us learned that life was a great gift, one that should be treasured and lived to the fullest to return the favor to God for giving us life.
The unfamiliar place soon became my home. My home was where I met new people that were the main reason for defeating the disease. The sympathy that I felt from people made me strong. But the people who didn’t cry for me made me stronger and more humble. I will never forget those people. I cannot call myself a survivor without thanking the people who helped me through my disease.
I fought and fought, through many injuries my opponent inflicted, I came out victorious. I am victorious. Although my opponent caused many hardships and inflicted much pain on my body and soul, I thank the Cancer. I thank it for teaching me things not many children learn this young and for making me a strong, valiant soldier.