Cancer, There's A Few Things You Should Know

Cancer, There's A Few Things You Should Know

You may start the fight, but you can bet your ass we will finish it.

If there’s one thing I know about cancer, it’s that it doesn't discriminate. It doesn’t care about your race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, social status, your age, or even if you’re a decent human being. My mom is a breast cancer survivor, and while in remission she recently had her second cancer scare. I thank the Lord each and every day that she doesn’t have to go through the fight for her life for a second time. These are the few things I wish cancer would know before pursuing not only my mother but anyone else as well.

First, you can be sure to receive a fight like no other in return. You, cancer, are so strong, swift, and fierce. But so is my mother. She’s smart, unbelievably strong in multiple senses, doesn’t give up, and in case you haven’t noticed she has an army behind her of family, friends, and doctors who make it their mission to destroy you. In other words, this army can be described as a lion because we go for the jugular and we don’t release until our enemy is DEAD.

Second, I know your goal is not only to devour your victims but to rip families apart in sadness and despair. But, you should know that this family, although not always on the same page and sometimes fighting, will always come together for those we love. Although you are a curse in so many ways, the one admiral quality you have the potential of bringing is that families form a stronger bond in order to eradicate you. Our dream is for you to be removed from this world. We study, donate, and march to help find a way to eliminate you from an otherwise beautiful world.

Third, you’re life altering not life defining. I know you try to be as debilitating as possible, but I’ve got news for you, you’re not. You bring about changes to life. Unwanted changes, but changes that can be dealt with. The new routines, diet, and everything else implemented into a cancer patient’s life becomes normal. You don’t limit or define personhood. Cancer patients can still have a life full of fun and laughter.

So, cancer, just remember that although you may start the fight, you can bet your ass we will finish it.

Cover Image Credit: Shannon Kerns

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Concussions Are Brain Injuries, So Stop Acting Like They're Not

Take it from somebody who knows.

I probably have a better authority on this than most. What prompted me to write this is my mother telling me that there was an article in the paper about concussions and that I might find it interesting to read. I was too busy falling asleep on the sofa at the moment she brought it up, but I did go back to it later.

It talked about everything I have been told ever since I had the worst concussion in 2013. Essentially that even though you might physically start to feel better, you are 100% not. Cognitive healing takes time, and some symptoms never really go away. I had been told all of this, my parents had been told all of this. Some of my teachers at the time were understanding, others were not.

In case you didn't know what a concussion is, here's this nifty little description:

I have had six-ish (its so bad, I'm not even sure anymore) documented concussions. Keyword: documented. It got to the point where if I hit my head I just wouldn't say anything. You wanna know why? I'll tell you.

Very often a concussion has a lot of symptoms that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Picture yourself being out of school for your senior year of high school, from the end of September through the beginning of January. You had to miss out on a whole semester because someone else was careless in gym class. (People that call basketball a non-contact sport are kidding themselves, by the way.)

You had taken over six years worth of Spanish classes but could not remember basic words. The spring semester starts so even though you still have symptoms but go back to school anyway.

You go back and find you have almost no one in your corner because everyone thought you were faking. You spent your free periods in the nurse's office because you were so tired and sick of the bullying you received for something that you wished had never happened.

I was not allowed to drive a car, and even if I was, I was afraid to. I was afraid to do anything that might risk another concussion. I was treated for years for concussions by the doctors that treat the Philadelphia Union team. They have some of the best doctors that I have ever met, and they are patient and understanding with concussion patients.

Those doctors sent me to see more doctors. I was treated by a Speech Therapist for my memory and recall(I think it was actually Occupational Therapy, but whatever), a Balance Therapist to help with balance and multitasking, and finally a Physical Therapist for whiplash. You could say I had my fill of that real quick.

I finally (because those six short months was an eternity) graduated high school and move onto the next chapter of my life. I went to college and learned first hand that I still had underlying symptoms.

I had never been the greatest math student but I could remember the structure of the formulas I had to use. Now not only could I not remember the basic structures, I could not remember what formulas went with what type of problem.

People would sit there and watch me try to solve a high-school level math problem and struggle all the way through it and more often than not come up with the wrong answer. I taught myself new study techniques, which helped me some. But it didn't help enough.

I had to make special accommodations with the school to take tests in quiet rooms by myself and have 'cheat sheets' for math and philosophy. I had to do this at least once a year, either from lingering symptoms or a new concussion.

You know that phrase, 'I wouldn't wish this pain on my worst enemy'? Well, that's how I feel about concussions. While I want people to understand what I went through, I do not want to watch another person suffer the way I did. I have to second guess my memories because I do not trust my brain to remember properly anymore. I have to write important things down multiple times in multiple places (a great study technique, by the way) just to remember them.

If I'm being honest, part of the reason I started writing for Odyssey is that I was afraid to let my brain sit idle for too long while I didn't have a job.

People do not think concussions pose a real problem, until it happens to them or someone they care for. When they experience first hand all of the mind numbing headaches and inability to concentrate, they develop compassion for people that have dealt with it already. When they see someone they love second guessing who they are because they cannot remember to develop empathy for those that have already suffered.

How about we stop waiting for someone to be changed by a concussion to believe the symptoms are real?

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Living With Muscular Dystrophy As Told By The Simpsons

The Simpsons understand our struggles.

Living with a neuromuscular disease can be rough at times, but it has become a part of me that I’ve learned to love. If you are living with muscular dystrophy or a similar disease, you’ll understand all of these things.

When you’re waiting for your PCA to bring you food:

And they end up giving you way too much:

When you get a PCA that can’t cook:

When you get a PCA that’s a good cook:

When your PCA starts talking really loudly on the phone in the morning:

When someone drives your chair without asking:

When you’ve explained something to your PCA three times and they still don’t know how to do it:

When something gets stuck in your wheels:

When you realize you can do something by yourself without needing help:

When someone cute helps you out:

When none of your PCAs can come and you’re stuck with your family helping you:

When you try to teach people how to use your medical equipment:

When your chair breaks down right before you’re about to go out:

Living with MD can be hard but you know you wouldn’t want it any other way:

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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