WE DON’T GIVE UP. THEY DON’T GIVE UP.


WE DON’T GIVE UP. THEY DON’T GIVE UP. HELP US KEEP UP OUR DAILY SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES FACING SERIOUS ILLNESSES

 

SEPTEMBER 10, 2001 WAS A VERY IMPORTANT DAY IN MY LIFE. IT WAS THE FIRST DAY OF EIGHTH GRADE, AND I HAD BOUGHT A BRAND NEW DIARY THE DAY BEFORE WHERE I HOPED TO START RECORDING ALL THE EARTH SHATTERING EVENTS THAT WOULD SURELY OCCUR IN THIS IMPORTANT SCHOOL VEAR – LIKE MY SECRET DREAM OF BEING ELECTED YEARBOOK EDITOR, AND OF COURSE, GRADUATION!
LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT MORE IMPORTANT THINGS WOULD HAPPEN THAT YEAR.
THE VERY NEXT MORNING, TERRORISTS CRASHED TWO PLANES INTO THE TWIN TOWERS AS MY CLASSMATES AND I WATCHED IN HORROR FROM OUR FOURTH-FLOOR CLASSROOM WINDOW.
THE SECOND ENTRY IN MY DIARY WAS THEREFORE MARKED WITH RED INK – AND FEAR. FOR THREE DAYS I WAS AN EMOTIONAL WRECK.
SO WHEN JUST TWO MONTHS LATER I STARTED COMPLAINING OF BACKACHES, STOMACHACHES, AND OTHER MYSTERIOUS PAINS THAT CAME AND WENT LIKE THE MOON ON A CLOUDY NIGHT, MY PARENTS CHALKED IT UP TO DELAYED PTSD. OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT – THEY’RE NOT VERY INTO PSYCHOLOGY. AFTER A VISIT TO A DOCTOR OR TWO FOR MY BACKACHES, WHICH MYSTERIOUSLY JUMPED FROM ONE SIDE OF MY BACK TO THE OTHER, MY PARENTS WERE RELIEVED TO HEAR THE DIAGNOSIS: SCHOOLITIS, DEFINED BY THE YOUNG DOCTOR AS “A DISEASE MARKED BY IMAGINARY SYMPTOMS INVENTED TO KEEP THE SUFFERER OUT OF SCHOOL”
THE PAIN – NOW IN MY THIGH – WAS ONLY TOO REAL MOTRIN HELPED, UNTIL I GOT USED TO IT AND NEEDED HIGHER AND HIGHER DOSES TO GET ME THROUGH THE DAY. EVENTUALLY, THE MEDICATION MADE ME SO SLEEPY, THAT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE I WOKE UP IN SHOCK, TO SEE MY TEACHER’S FROWNING FACE GLOWERING AT ME. I WAS EMBARRASSED – BUT SO TIRED AND WEAK ALL THE TIME.

BUT THERE WAS REALLY NOTHING WRONG WITH ME, THE DOCTORS CLAIMED. A BIT LOW IN IRON, THE HEMOGLOBIN TEST SHOWED, BUT OTHERWISE PERFECTLY FINE. MY PARENTS WERE DEVASTATED THAT THEIR SMART, TALENTED, CAPABLE DAUGHTER WAS FALLING APART WITH SOME MYSTERIOUS PSYCHOSOMATIC ILLNESS.
ONE SUNDAY MORNING WHEN I CALLED MY MOTHER TO SHOW HER SOME STRANGE BLUE MARKS ABOVE MY KNEES, SHE TURNED PALE, AND SOMEWHERE INSIDE THE FUZZY CLOUD THAT MY BRAIN HAD BECOME, I REMEMBERED THAT THIS WAS A SYMPTOM OF SOMETHING REALLY BAD. WHAT EXACTLY, I DIDN’T VET PUT TOGETHER.
THAT WOULD COME LATER.
A DAV LATER I FOUND MYSELF IN THE NYU ELEVATOR, RESTING AFTER WALKING ACROSS THE LONG LONG LOBBY. EVERYTHING SEEMED SO LONG NOW … SUDDENLY EVERYTHING WENT BLACK… THEN DR. MEISLIN WAS PEERING AT ME OVER HIS GLASSES AND ORDERING A WHEELCHAIR. “SHE’S NOT GOING HOME TODAY,” HE TOLD MY FATHER. THAT DAY I ALSO GOT AN IMPORTANT PHONE CALL MY FRIENDS CALLED ME TO TELL ME THAT I HAD BEEN ELECTED EDITOR IN CHIEF OF OUR CLASS’S YEARBOOK! THEY WERE SURE l’D BE VERY EXCITED – MY DREAM (I GUESS NOT-SO-SECRET, AFTER ALL) HAD COME TRUE.
BUT I WAS ALSO IN THE MIDDLE OF A NIGHTMARE.
A FEW DAYS LATER, AT THE END OF FEBRUARY ’02, WE TRANSFERRED TO MEMORIAL HOSPITAL – AND NO, I DID NOT VET REALIZE THAT ITS FULL NAME WAS MEMORIAL SLOAN KETTERING CENTER FOR CANCER AND ALLIED DISEASES. AND WHEN I DID SEE IT – ON THE WALLS, THE CHARTS, THE PAPER CUPS – I WAS STILL SURE I PROBABLY HAD ONE OF THOSE MYSTERIOUSLY UNIDENTIFIED ALLIED DISEASES.

BUT THERE WAS REALLY NOTHING WRONG WITH ME, THE DOCTORS CLAIMED. A BIT LOW IN IRON, THE HEMOGLOBIN TEST SHOWED, BUT OTHERWISE PERFECTLY FINE. MY PARENTS WERE DEVASTATED THAT THEIR SMART, TALENTED, CAPABLE DAUGHTER WAS FALLING APART WITH SOME MYSTERIOUS PSYCHOSOMATIC ILLNESS.

ONE SUNDAY MORNING WHEN I CALLED MY MOTHER TO SHOW HER SOME STRANGE BLUE MARKS ABOVE MY KNEES, SHE TURNED PALE, AND SOMEWHERE INSIDE THE FUZZY CLOUD THAT MY BRAIN HAD BECOME, I REMEMBERED THAT THIS WAS A SYMPTOM OF SOMETHING REALLY BAD. WHAT EXACTLY, I DIDN’T VET PUT TOGETHER.
THAT WOULD COME LATER.
A DAV LATER I FOUND MYSELF IN THE NYU ELEVATOR, RESTING AFTER WALKING ACROSS THE LONG LONG LOBBY. EVERYTHING SEEMED SO LONG NOW … SUDDENLY EVERYTHING WENT BLACK… THEN DR. MEISLIN WAS PEERING AT ME OVER HIS GLASSES AND ORDERING A WHEELCHAIR. “SHE’S NOT GOING HOME TODAY,” HE TOLD MY FATHER. THAT DAY I ALSO GOT AN IMPORTANT PHONE CALL MY FRIENDS CALLED ME TO TELL ME THAT I HAD BEEN ELECTED EDITOR IN CHIEF OF OUR CLASS’S YEARBOOK! THEY WERE SURE l’D BE VERY EXCITED – MY DREAM (I GUESS NOT-SO-SECRET, AFTER ALL) HAD COME TRUE.
BUT I WAS ALSO IN THE MIDDLE OF A NIGHTMARE.
A FEW DAYS LATER, AT THE END OF FEBRUARY ’02, WE TRANSFERRED TO MEMORIAL HOSPITAL – AND NO, I DID NOT VET REALIZE THAT ITS FULL NAME WAS MEMORIAL SLOAN KETTERING CENTER FOR CANCER AND ALLIED DISEASES. AND WHEN I DID SEE IT – ON THE WALLS, THE CHARTS, THE PAPER CUPS – I WAS STILL SURE I PROBABLY HAD ONE OF THOSE MYSTERIOUSLY UNIDENTIFIED ALLIED DISEASES.

THE DAY-TO-DAY SOCIAL INTERACTIONS SO IMPORTANT TO A TEENAGER.
AND ONE DAY, LIKE A RAY OF SUNSHINE, A YOUNG GIRL WITH SUNNY BLONDE HAIR AND A DISPOSITION TO MATCH, SAILED INTO MY ROOM AND INTRODUCED HERSELF AS ESTI GOLDMAN. SHE BEGAN TALKING – AND CONTINUED FOR A WHILE.
THOUGH OTHER CONVERSATIONS SOMETIMES WORE ME OUT, SHE HAD ALL KINDS OF INTERESTING STORIES AND OBSERVATIONS TO SHARE, MAKING ME SMILE AS WE ATTEMPTED TO TOP EACH OTHER’S WITTICISMS. SHE CAME AS OFTEN AS SHE COULD, ALWAYS LUGGING AN OVERSIZED A BAG OF INTERESTING GAMES, BOOKS AND TOYS TO ENTERTAIN ME FOR THE NEXT FEW HOURS.
WE BEGAN WHAT CONTINUES TO BE AN INTERESTING RELATIONSHIP; SHE IS A UNIQUE BLEND OF FRIEND, MENTOR, FELLOW PRANKSTER, AND ENTERTAINER.
I DIDN’T REALIZE THAT SHE BELONGED TO AN ORGANIZATION FOR A LONG TIME.
I GOT TO MEET OTHER GIRLS WHO TOOK ME ON TRIPS BETWEEN TREATMENTS OR SPENT HOURS TOGETHER WITH ME. I FORGED DEEP CONNECTIONS TO THESE VOLUNTEERS, WHOSE WORK WAS DONE SO DISCREETLY AND GENTLY, AS TO TURN THEM INTO FAMILY FRIENDS. I NEVER FELT LIKE THE RECIPIENT OF CHESED WITH A CAPITAL C. THESE GIRLS REALLY CARED ABOUT ME AND MY INDIVIDUAL NEEDS. I WASN’T JUST A NUMBER ON THE LIST WHO WOULD GET A PREDETERMINED SERVICE; MANY ORGANIZATIONS OFFER SUPPER, BUT IF I WANTED PIZZA WHEN I WOKE UP FROM A DRUG INDUCED SLEEP, THEY WOULD GET ME PIZZA. AND IF I WANTED A STRAWBERRY SHAKE FROM THE APPETIZING STORE ACROSS THE STREET FROM MY HOUSE IN BROOKLYN, THEY WOULD GET IT TO MANHATTAN, AND MAKE SURE IT WAS STILL COLD WHEN IT GOT TO ME.

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