2020 was a year none of us could have imagined in our wildest dreams.With Covid-19 attacking at full steam, no vaccine, nor a clear way to deal with this virus, its effects have been dramatic.
But how did this pandemic affect cancer patients, their families and children?
For my classmate, the daughter of a cancer patient, this pandemic meant sacrifice for the greater good of her family.
My classmate, a senior in high school, has been watching her mom battle cancer since she was in 8th grade. At that time her family first received the news that her mom had a rare tumor in her liver. The doctors tried to first treat this tumor with surgery but were unsuccessful and ended up placing her on the organ transplant waiting list. Finally, two years later her mom received a call telling her that there was a new liver for her. Unfortunately about a year later in January of 2021, her mom received news that her cancer was back and she has been undergoing chemotherapy ever since.
Through this experience my friend has seen immense personal growth, going from a girl who was completely dependent on her parents for everything to a young woman who is self-reliant and independent. At the time of the initial diagnosis she was quiet about all that was happening with her family and relied only on her small family of four for support. But out of necessity she matured, becoming more independent. Her voice has become stronger, and she has begun to find support in the people that surrounded her at school, while becoming a strong advocate for the things she believed to be important like organ donation. She also began to recognize how easy it was to feel entitled, wrapped up in yourself, and never considering the feelings of others; however, her mother’s illness had a dramatic impact on her view of herself and the world. She is grateful for what she has, especially her family, and she cherishes every small moment with them and every small win. Watching her mom battle cancer with grace, endurance and strength has inspired and motivated her to work hard both academically and socially.
When COVID hit in 2020, its impact on my friend was tremendous.
Not only was she making sacrifices to keep her mom safe, but she had lost her safe place, school. When she transferred to our high school in 10th grade, she found the environment to be supportive, warm, and nurturing. A place to release all the stress that she was experiencing at home. She felt safe and cared for. She was now in a place where everyone was concerned about her well being, ensuring she was doing well and supported.
Our school has not been in person until this past semester, and this past year has been difficult for everyone but more difficult for my friend. Being at home everyday, away from school and her friends has been very traumatic. She has had no release from the stresses that exist at home, exacerbated by her concern for her mother contracting COVID-19 and the feeling that it was her responsibility to keep her mom safe during the pandemic.
Even through all this turmoil, she has remained strong. She is someone who sees the glass half full, focusing on her small victories since her mother’s diagnosis and throughout this pandemic. She uses her mom’s strength as motivation to grow and knows that all of us have more strength and resilience than we may believe. My friend is an inspiration to me and everyone who knows her. It is wonderful to be back in class with her and to lend her a supporting hand.
Article Written by Emilia Hamburg for Tower Cancer Research Foundation’s Teen Corner.
About the Author: My name is Emilia Hamburg. I’m eighteen years old and I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. I am an avid dancer and have hopes of becoming a dancer and choreographer. I will be attending New York University Tisch School of the Arts in the fall with a major in dance in the hopes of furthering my dream of becoming a dancer and choreographer. I have always wanted to make a mark on the world, to do something to help others no matter what medium I use. The Tower Cancer Research Foundation has been a part of my life since I was a little girl and I started this blog when I was sixteen in order to give teenagers a voice and let their stories be heard. I’m lucky enough to have two parents that are involved in this Foundation giving me an immense understanding of the hardships of cancer, but also giving me the curiosity to hear about how it affects lives from the point of view of a teenager.