May 24, 2024

Once Upon a Time: My Cancer Life

Once upon a time, I had cancer. Once upon a time, I was nine years old. Once upon a time, I thought I might die.

I remember my mother telling me the news. She very calmly explained to me that I had cancer, that at that point in time, she did not have all the answers and that she did not know what the outcome was going to be.  I did not ask if I was going to die but she knew I was thinking about it. She told me that we were going to fight and get through it the best way we could. Some people want a “promise” that they are going to be okay. They want to hear that everything is going to be fine. I am not sure if that is what I wanted or not, but I took comfort in my mother’s words that we would “do the best we could.”

Once upon a time, I had to travel a lot for treatment and surgeries. I had to be out of state and stay in a hospital countless times.

I did not know what was going to happen to me, but I knew full well that I had the best support. My family surrounded me. Most told me everything would be fine. I could not believe it because there was no proof of that, but I loved that they were there for me, and they were trying to make me keep the faith.

Once upon a time, I was a Make-A-Wish Child. Make-A-Wish grants children with terminal illnesses, one wish. One thing they want to do before they die. I chose a Disney Cruise with my mother and grandmother.  The experience was the most incredible and wonderful thing I have ever done. The Make-A-Wish foundation went above and beyond to make sure I had the time of my life. They gave me the time of my life in case my life ended sooner than planned.  Once upon a time, that was a possibility.  However, with the proper treatment due to countless amounts of research by total strangers, donations made by all that could, and incredible doctors with hearts to heal…. I survived.

I have been active in donating or walking for The Make-A-Wish Foundation ever since and so has my family. Not only did they make my wish come true, but they also helped my family and I forget I was sick for a while. Forget that we had a long road ahead. Forget that death was a possibility. 

I made it through my treatments and although the rate of recurrence is high, I do not worry about me. I worry about helping children that felt the way I did, Once Upon a Time.

Taryn Leubner

Taryn is a General Studies major at Herkimer College.

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