Friday, October 25, 2013

October Write..Edit...Publish

I am participating in WEP for October. We have to write a piece in the theme of scariness. The best and most eye opening piece will receive an award, which is a gift card. I really hope my piece wins! Everything you see here is 100% true.

“You have cancer”. When I heard that on November 15,2011, I was devastated, terrified,  and shocked. 
   It all started on October 4th, 2011. I went to the dermatologist due to dandruff, and I also wanted to show her a weird bump on my scalp. It’d been there for five years (at least), and three pediatricians had identified it has a cyst, and there’d never been any cause for concern. However, I thought I might as well show the doctor. I was there, and I wanted it to be looked at. 
  When the doctor looked at it, she was concerned because it was red. “I’ll give you two choices”, she said. “ We can either take it off, or I can see you back in a few months to look at it again”. I thought for a second. I knew that if I were to get it taken off, it’d be really painful. On the other hand, I didn’t want to wait. What if it was something bad? In the end, I decided to get it taken off. 
We made the appointment for November 14th, 2011. During that entire month, all I could do was wait and hope for the best. I have to admit that I was freaked out about the whole thing. I hate needles, and I knew that there’d be at least one going into my head, if not more. I only thought about that one aspect, not about the results. I automatically assumed that the results would show that the bump was just a harmless cyst. But I’d soon be proven wrong!
   Before I knew it, November 14th came. My stomach felt like there were butterflies in it.  Unfortunately, that anxiety didn’t get resolved right away. We had to wait an hour for the doctor to come. All I wanted to do was get the procedure over with and go home so that I could study for my science test. My mom asked me, “ Do you want me to see if she has another appointment open?”. I said no. All I wanted to do was get it over with!
   It seemed as though hours passed before the doctor came in. When she finally did, I was terrified but relieved. This meant that the procedure was that much closer to being over! The biopsy was awful. Absolutely awful.I had to get shots of local anesthetic, which was the worst part. The doctor was terrible at giving injections. It was the worst pain I’d ever been in. However, after about fifteen minutes, it was over. I can honestly say that those 15 minutes were the worst part of this entire ordeal. 
   The next day, around 6:00, we got the phone call. My heart was racing- I had a feeling we’d get bad news. Why else would he have stayed on the phone for a half hour? Unfortunately, my suspicion of it being horrible news turned out to be correct. My dad said, “ It’s cancer. You’re going to have to have it removed again”. I started bawling uncontrollably. 
  There was, however, a good part to this story. I have been keeping in touch with my middle school english teacher for several years now. We’ve grown to have a special connection over the past few years. I finally made the decision to tell her about this whole surgery thing. I was reluctant to at first, but it ended up being the best decision I’d ever made. Part of the benefit having a friendship like this is that you have someone to go to for support. I sent the initial email telling her about it. I got a response the next day, and I was scared to open it at first. I guess I was worried about how she’d react. It isn’t everyday that someone tells you that they’re going to have surgery! However, when I did end up opening it, she did not overreact. She ended up helping me through this whole experience. I would have been worse off if I didn’t tell. You really don’t know until you try!
  Anyway, more on that later. Getting back to me, the next few weeks were spent going to doctor after doctor. I suddenly realized that there was a very good chance that I’d 1. have to have multiple surgeries and 2. that there was a very good chance that I’d be put to sleep for at least one. I was terrified at the thought of being put to sleep. I’d never done it before, and my mom has had several bad reactions to it. 
   A few weeks later, I found out that I’d have to have an MRI of my brain to see how big the tumor was. The dermatologist wasn’t sure if she’d be comfortable doing the surgery because she thought that the tumor might be bigger than she thought. 
  The day before the MRI, I was an emotional wreck. I had never had this type of test before, and from what I’d heard from other people, it’s not pleasant!! 
The day before the test, I went and saw my former teacher that I mentioned before. It turned out that that was the best thing. I told her about the MRI, and she said that,” I’ll be thinking of you all day tomorrow!”. That made me feel better. 
  So, the MRI was horrible. It took nearly two hours, and it was so loud that it sounded like a saw was going in my ear. I also had to have an injection of contrast, which is a dye to help the MRI pictures be easier to look at. That was the worst part. I was screaming the entire time.
  Eventually, we decided to go to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for the surgery. They have doctors who specialize in this sort of thing. My main surgeon was really nice. He knew what he was doing, but he also had an awesome bedside manner. I should mention here that right before the surgery, I was tearing up. My plastic surgeon (more about him later) just stood there looking at me, but my main surgeon was patting me on the shoulder, trying to make me feel better, which it did. That just goes to show how much difference a small gesture can make! I’ll get back to that day in a bit. 
   I also had to have an initial surgery to remove the cancer itself. It hurt a lot, but I had a nice Dr. doing it. In total, the surgery took about 5 hours. I was awake for it, and the local anesthesia didn’t even hurt. I got used to it pretty quick. I was relieved when it was over, though. Being awake for a procedure is not fun!
   For the next surgery, I would be asleep, and the doctors would close up the huge wound from the last surgery. Originally, the surgeons said that they were going to shave half my head for the surgery. However, after I broke down in tears at this news, they did a skin graft instead. It was very painful. Anyway, the plastic surgeon was pretty insensitive. He didn’t have a very good bedside manner. Oh well...
  The day of surgery was very overwhelming. We did a lot of waiting that day, and the worst part was the i.v line. However, everyone was really nice. I remember going into the operating room, but that’s it.  I wasn’t at all nauseous when I woke up, and I felt like a princess, with everyone there waiting on me!
  The recovery has been awful. Initially, I missed five days of school, and couldn’t wash my hair for five days. It’s been 14 months now, and the skin graft still itches- a normal part of healing. I have ultrasounds every six months, and so far I’m cancer free! 
  I have learned a ton about friendship in these past several months. Some of my friends were not supportive, while others were. I was hesitant to tell people at first, as I was not sure how they’d react. But the one main lesson I’ve learned through all this is that, “ You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. In other words, if you don’t reach out for help, you’ll never get it. When you’re a teenage cancer patient, you need all the help you can get!
  After this experience, I am doing everything I can to give back. I volunteer at Advocate Lutheran General Children’s Hospital every summer, and I am going to participate in American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life this summer. I know that even the smallest things make a big difference. 


  1. Morgan, welcome back! This real-life story is scarier than zombies and vampires and axe murderers. How capricious life is at times. Many people would just keep on ignoring that lump on the head, taking doctors' advice that it's just a cyst. Thankfully you decided to do something about it. As you rightly say, “ You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. I'm glad you took this shot, and also that you asked for help wherever you could get it.

    It is heartwarming to see you giving back out of a thankful heart. Many will be blessed through this scarifying experience of yours. Here's to your future good health!

    Thank you for sharing with the WEP blogfest.


  2. Wow Morgan, that's some scary story you tell! Sounds like you are a very brave person. It's wonderful that you can share this with others. I feel humble to be here with you today. I wish you good health and happiness for all the tomorrows.

  3. It's fantastic that you could turn such a horrible experience into a spirit of giving and a lesson of friendship!

  4. While reading your story, I was reminded of a short memoir piece that I wrote about the spine surgery I had at fifteen. A lot of what you said brought me back to that time. It truly is haunting.

    I'm glad you had someone like your English teacher to help you through. And it's wonderful that you are giving back.

    Thank you for sharing this with us!

  5. That was indeed chilling in the most fundamental way. The fact that you turned it around and give back is amazing. :)

  6. I admire your courage and your commitment to give back~ I am so happy everything worked out for you! What a write-I know you relieved it, as you typed this~ Thank you for sharing-it is haunting!
    I have had spinal surgery-that is my horror.

    Your teacher sounds like an angel!

  7. Awesome of you to be giving back in that way. I'm so glad you made it through and are cancer-free.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  8. Bravo for sharing your ordeal with us. I'm happy that you got through it - I can't imagine how scary it was - and I pray you never have any more problems. Glad they caught in time too! Best wishes. (My WEP blog story is a scary fiction and involves medical practice, so you might not want to read it!)

  9. Yes, as Denise said the scariest thing of all! So glad you are doing well! Thank you for sharing!

    Happy Halloween!

    Giving back is such a blessing for all you help!

  10. So glad you have got through your ordeal and wishing you good health from now on.

  11. Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

    Dear Morgan,

    I agree with Denise, Jenny and Yolanda, that your ordeal is scarier than any of our fictional Halloween stories. Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm glad to know that you are doing well and hope with all my heart, that you continue to enjoy good health from now on.

    I admire your courage. My father would have too.
    Your story is now one of my favourites.

    Best wishes,
    Anna's WEP-Challenge for October: Haunting

  12. I am so glad you are cancer free. How terrifying to face such a challenge at your age. It's amazing how medical professionals range in category of most supportive to just give me your money. Attitude in life is everything. I am thrilled that you have found a mentor in your former English teacher. I wish you the best. Thanks for posting a real life terror story.

  13. What a frightening experience. I am glad you survived, and are doing so much to give back to the community that needs your encouragement, and to hear your life story.


  14. Congratulations on being cancer free! Stay healthy and thanks for sharing your very personal story.


Thank you for taking the time to comment! :)