This will be the longest post on my blog but I believe that it is important to share. I am currently getting ready to apply to colleges and I have finished writing one of my college essays. It is about my mom, her diagnosis and how much my blog has helped me. I hope you have the time to read it and please let me know with any feedback!
“It's okay”, she insisted. “I'm going to be all right. I’m not going to leave you.”
My mom’s words, her confidence, helped. But I still went into my room and screamed into my pillow before crying myself to sleep.
On a calm summer morning, my parents had asked to speak with me. As they explained that my mom had been diagnosed with kidney cancer, I sat speechless, shocked, and, above all, scared.
My mom has been with me through every step of my life: from driving me to lacrosse games at the crack of dawn to comforting me when I get stressed about school. The reality quickly sank in that I could lose someone I could always rely on. Yet, while sitting alone in my room thinking about her condition left me terrified, I distanced myself from friends and family because all I wanted was to be alone.
As weeks passed, I knew something needed to change. I was constantly depressed. I kept looking for people in similar circumstances online because I truly wanted a community I could connect with. It was hard to express my emotions in person, but speaking with peers virtually could have saved me from the bottomless pit. Instead, I found only sugar-coated videos and articles written by adults trying to reassure children with sick parents that things would get better. Unhelpful suggestions like “exercise can reduce worrisome feelings” and “everything will be okay with time” annoyed me. These creators weren’t speaking from personal experience. They didn’t understand what it was like to be a kid worried about whether or not his mom would be alive a year or even a week later.
Eventually, my frustration with the lack of helpful resources motivated me to start my own blog, Kidney Cancer Connection. My website helps families find healthy ways to cope with cancer and allows us to talk about our loved ones’ condition and share information about grief. It ensures that nobody else will have to experience the same agitated solitude I encountered.
Furthermore, posting free writing on the website helps me understand my emotions. When I started writing posts, my concerns disappeared. The stress I had been bottling up dissolved with every word I formulated, and I quickly fell in love with sharing my experiences in order to help others. I knew now that I could do more with this website than I had ever anticipated.
Over time, I began posting updates for the website on social media, and whenever I did, somebody close to me would reach out and share their story of a family member who had or has cancer. Today, numerous peers of mine continue to talk with me and read my blog posts for advice and insight, with the hopes of improving their own situation. Additionally, I have held and will continue to hold Zoom meetings for anybody who wants to speak with teenagers with similar experiences to their own. This open, supportive community is everything my blog was intended to create. Importantly, this work has also helped me grow and learn to live with my mom's illness; providing information and advice to others affected by cancer has given me comfort and hope, too.
People aren’t defined by their trauma, but by how they handle it. Although my mother is still battling cancer, I have renewed faith, both in her and in my ability to continue onward no matter what happens. Launching Kidney Cancer Connection helped me understand that surrounding yourself with the right people and finding motivation can make even the most challenging circumstances manageable. Moving forward, I will keep the blog active so that anybody who feels the way I once felt can find comfort and guidance there. Just as my mom did for me, I want to continue to be able to tell others: “It's okay. It’s going to be all right. I’m not going to leave you.”