Please say hello to Chloe. She is a senior t Magnificat High School. He experience with cancer has shaped her future.
“The past two years have been devastating for many people in our communities and across the world. To varying degrees, everyone has been touched by the difficulties of life in the time of a global pandemic. Whether it be people who lost their jobs or businesses, students unable to attend school, or those who have been ill or watched loved ones die, everyone’s life has been turned upside down by Covid-19. If these past years afforded us anything, it was having a lot of time to reflect on life, how fragile it is, what is important, and how everything can change in a hurry. It is hard times like these that make me grateful that I have my family, friends, and coping skills I learned years ago. It has also made me curious about pursuing a career in public health.
In 2015, my little brother Jack, who was seven at the time, was diagnosed with liver cancer. It was very sudden and he was very ill. He had to get a liver transplant, and although it ultimately went well and he recovered, it was the most difficult time in my life. I relied heavily on my family to get through it, but that was not enough. I developed an anxiety disorder that required my seeing a psychiatrist for a few years. During that time, I had many irrational fears that made it hard to be away from my parents. My dad would drive me to school in the mornings and as we got closer to the school, the more anxious I became. When we pulled up to the dropoff line, I would start sobbing and be unable to get out of the car. If I went out with friends, I was unable to have fun and counted the minutes until I could go home.
Thankfully, the struggles I endured ended up teaching me many valuable skills that I will use for the rest of my life. I learned countless techniques and calming activities that I use when I feel a bout of anxiety coming on. I also began running to clear my head. I have been running almost every day since, and have found that it keeps me grounded. It is the most beneficial stress-reliever for me, and I don’t know where I would be if I had not fallen in love with running.
Two weeks before Christmas during my freshman year, right before finals, Jack was back in the hospital at main campus. We could not figure out what was wrong at first, but after some tests, the doctors said he was in rejection. (his immune system was fighting against his transplant). He was inpatient for a week, the week that I was ending my first semester and taking finals. It was just a crazy time going to school and then rushing down there as soon as I was done. It brought back many memories from when he was first sick.
The support of my family, friends, and Jack’s doctors got me and my family through this bump in the road. The doctors and nurses were so kind and knew just what he needed to do. He had to start taking a lot more meds, so our family was very worried for a couple of months afterward because his immune system was even more suppressed. Since then, he has not been in rejection again. He is thriving and happy and is a strong little brother. Next time something like this happens, I know he can get through it because of his toughness and ability to overcome adversity, and I will be right there with him.
I feel I am a much stronger person because of the adversity I faced during those years. The pandemic has been hard. We have had to be very careful to keep Jack from getting sick with his compromised immune system, but I believe I have been able to navigate it well because of the coping mechanisms I learned years ago when he was sick. These strategies have certainly helped me a lot since Covid emerged. The combination of the pandemic and particularly, Jack’s cancer, has inspired me to pursue a career in the public health field. The idea of “health” and all that it entails for better and worse, was obviously thrust on me at a young age. It is something I have necessarily had to think about quite a lot for someone my age. It has been scary at times but has also inspired me to make the decision to major in public health this coming fall, with a focus on either epidemiology or health policy and administration. I am co-majoring or minoring in art management, too.
My brother getting cancer when I was 10 years old was an incredibly difficult time, and Covid has been tough too. That said, I have faced these difficult situations and come out stronger on the other side. I have little doubt that I will do so again when life’s adversities arise. Thankfully, my family, friends, and therapist have instilled in me a fortitude, an ability to find strength when things are not working out or going as planned. I look forward to using the strength and knowledge I have gained over the years in a health-related field in which I can make a positive impact on people who will have to deal with similar adversities to the ones I endured in the future.”