Laurel Shern 講於2010年10月8日星期五晚 萬佛城大殿 A talk given by Laurel Shern on October 8, 2010
Buddha Bodhisatva, Venerable Master, Dharma Masters, all good knowing advisors, teachers, and students. Amitaba/Amitopho. My name is Laurel Shern. I am in 11th grade in Developing Virtues Girl School.
Before I start, I have to admit, I don’t know much about cancer. I think it’s because I don’t want to know the details of what could happen. I don’t know what goes on at the hospital or the hardship of going through cancer. I think I know less than 5 percent of the things that went on. However, what I do know is the feeling of having someone close to you getting diagnosed with cancer, and not knowing about what could happen at any moment. This is my experience with dealing with cancer and how it changed my outlook on life.
My sister, Laurice, was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma last September. Last summer, my sister and I went to take a chest x-ray and they found something unusual in my sister’s scan. After further investigation, and about a month of not knowing what was in her, they found out what the problem was. That was when my family and I realized, the thing that they had found, was serious. Before, we were anxious because we didn’t know what it was. However, we hoped that it would just be a slight problem that wasn’t a life or death matter. The fact that my sister was diagnosed with cancer was shocking.
When I first received the news that my sister was diagnosed, I was numb. I guess all of my family was just shocked. Here, my sister, a healthy eighteen year old girl, was “sick”. We didn’t know what to do or how to deal with the fact. I remember crying throughout the whole school day, and still crying when my tears had dried up.
It was decided that my sister would have treatment at the Stanford hospital. My sister and my mom would live at my aunt’s house. At that time, my sister had just started attending her dream college, Williams. Laurice didn’t want to be moved, but reluctantly went. It was decided that my sister would have nine month of treatment, including chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
Treatment was harsh. I only saw a little bit of what went on, but even from what I saw, I knew. My sister was constantly in danger. She could pass out at any moment or her blood count could be too low. She could catch a fever and with the smallest cut could endanger her whole life. During treatment, her hair fell out, she lost her appetite, her nails turned black, she turned pale, and she kept throwing up.
I guess, throughout the whole nine month, I got use to the new lifestyle and the fact. However, there would be one or two times where I would actually realize that my sister had cancer and start crying. It was tough for me because I was away from my sister and mom. I wanted to know what was going on, but I never really did get an accurate description. I didn’t like being left in the dark. However, there’s not much to say about how horrible the treatment was, and I guess, my mom wanted to protect me from the truth. Many times, I would wonder, why. Why did it happen to my sister? Why? Why? Why? I resented the fact that my sister had cancer. Many times, I thought it was unfair. Unfair how it was Laurice that got it, unfair that my family was just apart the whole entire time, unfair at how the treatment was going. Everything was unfair. I was depressed many times, even though I knew I couldn’t really do anything about it. Even now, I can’t really describe how it felt and what I was going through. As of now, it seems as though it was ages ago, and when I try to recall some emotion, I find that my mind blocks them out.
My experience throughout the whole treatment was all right. I wasn’t there to see my sister at her worst, so I was somewhat shielded. I just stayed at home and tried to get good grades to ease my family’s worries. They had enough to worry about without having me add to their pile. However, the two times I was able to see my sister and mom before the whole was process finished, I was delighted. I realized how important it was to actually be together as a family because before, I would just take the family bond for granted. At home, I use to argue with my mother a lot. However, after this experience, I realized that my mom was just trying to help me grow up. To see her tend to my sister for the whole time made me realize how much she loved my sister and me, and would dedicate herself into helping us.
Many times throughout the treatment, it seemed as though I was ‘alone’ because my mom wasn’t there to help me. However, from this, I discovered the value of friendship and learned how to be independent. At first, my friends were just my friends. I never realized how much I depended on friendship before. During the treatment, my friends would always encourage me and tell me to be more optimistic. They were there when I needed a shoulder to cry on or when I just needed to talk. Also, I learned how to be independent. I needed to take care of myself and get all my schoolwork done on time. There was no one else to nag me and tell me I had to do this and that.
After nine long months, Laurice finished her treatment last June. Her hair has started to grow back again and her health is better. My sister just returned back to school this September, and she still thinks that going to college is a too good to be true. As of now, my sister still remains enthusiastic and helps out whenever she cans. Laurice realizes how short life can be, and is doing everything she enjoys, while taking rests in between. [She is in the school newspaper, as well as one of the food commitees at Williams. She continues to learn and play the viola. Lately, she has wrote to me and told me how happy she is to be back at school. She wants to do as many things as she can.] As of now, I’m really proud of my sister, of how much she’s been through and how she is still optimistic and always hoping for a good future.
The nine months changed my life entirely. The most important lesson I got out of the whole time, was the value of life. Before, I had thought that life was ok, but there was nothing to it. As a student, I just thought that life was just filled with homework, quizzes and tests. However, after realizing that death could be around the corner, I have appreciated the fact that I am alive today. Right now, I want to have a ‘life’. I want to be someone. I’ve stopped caring about all the little things in life, such as status or my daily looks. I realized that when I die, I want to be able to look back at my life and be proud of it. Life really, is too short. Thank you.