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She Didn't Cry: My Cousin's Battle with Cancer

She Didn't Cry:
My Cousin's Battle with Cancer

Writer, 18

Imagine being seven years old with a life full of parks, zoos, and swimming pools. Then, overnight, your world turns into hospitals, chemo treatments, and pain.

That's exactly what happened to my seven-year-old cousin, Michelle, in August of 1996. At a family pool party, Michelle wouldn't swim because her arm bothered her. A few days later at the hospital, the doctor broke the news. The x-rays showed cancer in her upper right arm. "You will have to start chemo immediately. Later we will have to perform surgery. Your hair will fall out, you won't be able to leave the house often, and you won't be able to swim," the doctor said. Michelle didn't cry.

A few days before Thanksgiving, Michelle went into the hospital for surgery. They removed the bone from her upper right arm and put a cadaver bone in its place. The cadaver bone did not fit, and they had to use pieces of her hip bone to fill in the places where it didn't fit. The doctors told Michelle that she would never be able to use her arm again. Michelle stood up to walk and screamed in pain. "Why are you trying to kill me?" she yelled at the doctors as she grabbed her hip. Even though it hurt, Michelle kept walking and she didn't cry.

The chemo treatments continued, and Michelle stayed in the house. Then, in June of 1997, x-rays showed a spot on Michelle's lungs. The doctors were unsure whether it was more cancer or the flu. Michelle didn't cry.

The doctors treated Michelle for the results that would tell them if the spot was cancer or the flu. The treatments caused the spot to disappear, and the results showed that it was the flu.

Finally, in August of 1997, one year after it all began, Michelle had her last chemo treatment. "I've got good news," the doctor told Michelle. "You are now in remission. In three years, if the cancer hasn't come back, you will be considered cancer free." Michelle looked at her mom and cried.

Four years later, Michelle is doing great. She has full use of her arm; even though she was told she would never use it again. She is finally allowed to swim. For Christmas, in 1997, her wish was to go to Florida and swim with her parents, grandparents, and brother. The Make-A-Wish Foundation sent them all to Florida for a week. Michelle and another cancer patient from the children's hospital had the honor of putting the star on the national Christmas tree that year as well. Michelle is without a doubt one of the strongest people I know.

Last Modified Date: 3/22/2001