Cancer, the term no one wants to hear. How could someone so healthy, energetic, and full of life have cancer? Well that’s the thing with cancer, Cancer can happen to anyone, it can bring the most successful happy person with hopes and dreams down. Unfortunately, I am here to tell my story. My name is Annie. I’m 14 years old. Level 8 gymnast, aspiring violinist.
My life changed in an instant, I didn’t know what was coming towards me as I walked into the gym. Later to know, that would have been my last practice in years. I remember you could feel the happiness and excitement in the room, that meant there was a meet the next day. But not like everyone else who were with their parents and friends talking about the meet, planning what they are going to wear, how they’re going to style their hair. I on the other hand wanted gold. I was just determined to give it my best tomorrow, to get my name on the board. Failure was not in my book.
I headed straight to the mats. Cracked my knuckles. I went for my first tumbling pass, it felt weird. My arms and legs felt really sore and weak. I thought nothing was wrong, I probably didn’t warm up that’s why. It got worse as the hours went by. My coach saw me in pain, he told me I didn’t have to compete tomorrow. I refused.
It’s meet day. I woke up with a huge headache. I was always confident, but today was different. My first event was vault, my arms gave up on me, I couldn’t lift myself up. I fell to the mat. I didn’t care about how fatigue my whole body was, what hurt more was seeing my score. I headed to beam. Thinking, what could go worse ? My head was pounding, my vision started getting blurry. I did my first spin, the most basic one I learned when I was 8, the one that I could do with my eyes closed. The last thing I remembered before waking up in a hospital, was losing my balance and collapsing to the floor.
“A disease in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and destroy body tissue” said the Doctor. As if I didn’t know what Cancer was. I noticed two things as I woke up, a part of my head was swollen. The doctor told me it was an abnormal growth of tissue called a tumor. I couldn’t believe it. You never think it would happen to you until it does. I thought, oh it’s probably a benign tumor and I’ll be out of here soon. 14 year old Annie was wrong. They did a biopsy on me to find out what type of tumor it was. Turns out the reason for my horrible meet was that I developed a malignant brain tumor, meaning it was infectious and dangerous. My dad went out the room, he couldn’t process the news. My grandma was beside my bed. She had tears in her eyes, she slowly came closer to me, and whispered in my ear, “I’m sorry you are gonna have to go through this, but if I can beat cancer, you sure can too.” My grandma always told me I was a fighter, that I was never afraid, and I never give up whether its gymnastics, music, or… cancer. And for that, I couldn’t miss what was coming for me that following week.
State Solo & Ensemble. I practiced my piece for months. I’m not gonna let cancer bring all of that time to waste. I begged my doctor and parents to let me perform before I start my treatment. I walked up the stage, ready to introduce myself. I had difficulty speaking, I kept stuttering. Immediately I thought, what if cancer was gonna win? I took a deep breath, and began playing. I felt a weird sensation in my fingers as I pressed down on the strings. It felt like pins and needles. Then it all stopped, I couldn’t feel the notes. For the first time, I gave up. I wasn’t strong enough to hold back my tears that all of my passions were being taken away by cancer. I thought, why me?
The brain tumor had spread; or metastasized. And my question was answered, why me? It wasn’t caused by a carcinogen. It could have been caused by the huge amount of stress I’ve been getting trying to balance out all my activities with school; considering I’m a perfectionist. But the doctor said it was mostly because my family had a history of brain tumors, including my grandma. I can tell she believed in me, and that was what kept me smiling through this all, while my parents were devastated. It breaks my heart seeing them like that. My treatment was chemotherapy. I let cancer take over all the things I loved to do, I thought it would take it away forever. Through the 2 years, I didn’t change. Of course cancer changed me, but what stayed was my determination. Thanks to that, and all the love and support I got from my teammates, fellow musicians, and family… I beat cancer. No words can describe how happy I felt to hear the words “You are in remission.”
I am now 16. It’s been long hitting the mats again and picking up the violin. But now, no trophy, score or title will ever compare to beating cancer. Cancer may have stopped some goals of mine, but it strengthened me. It made me think differently in life, that not everything should be serious and about winning, it’s about having fun, enjoying what you have now, before it goes away.