One day, I woke up and looked at my mother’s face. I was confused. She looked sick to her stomach when she told me, “we have to go to the hospital because grandma is in horrible condition and was diagnosed with cancer.” I was startled because I was still half asleep. The more I sat there and thought about it, I started to have this aching feeling in my throat as if I was about to cry, but was holding it in.
I've learned that cigarette smoking is the main cause of lung cancer. About 10% of lung cancer cases occur in people younger than 50 years old. But that day, all I remember is the sound of ringing in my ears and my heart pounding. I guess I’d rather hear the beeping then one, long constant beep.
I was upset with myself that I hadn't seen my grandma in six years because I was distant from them on her side of the family. There are about 224,210 new cases of lung cancer each year. Experts say 1116,000 men and 108,210 women get cancer every year, and they estimate 159,210 deaths from lung cancer -- 86,930 in men and 72,330 among women. “I never thought something like this would affect my grandma.”
I got to the hospital and all I remember is shaking, knowing I was going to see other distant members of my family. When I walked into the room, all eyes were on me. I heard my aunt crying and people were coming up to me, giving me hugs, saying I'm the last one she’s been waiting to see. “when i think of my grandma i always remember the smell of her perfume, she always smelled like her favorite perfume N 5 chanel. I also remember her always looking beautiful with the way she would do her makeup.”
The room smelled very heavy and had a weird odor. I sat down next to my grandma and I grabbed her hand and held it. Her hands were cold and weak. She squeezed my hand, knowing I’m there with her. I started crying because I knew she was in pain. I see tubes coming out of different places in her body. I hear the sound of the beeping from the machines. After being there for five hours with my mom, we decided to leave because it was getting late. I said my goodbyes to my family and whispered in my grandma’s ear: “bye grandma, I love you, I’m sorry I haven’t been here for you, but you mean the world to me.”
We leave the hospital and the whole way home was in silence. I asked my mom if we can come back tomorrow and she said yes, so I was happy. I went to sleep peacefully, knowing I have seen my grandma and that I'm going to see her again. I asked my mom how she was feeling about what was going on and her response was: “I’m feeling sad and surprised because grandma always took good care of herself and I never imagined something like this happening to her. She’s a good woman and she’s going to get through this.”
The next morning, I woke up happy and excited. I was going to have breakfast and my mom came to me crying, saying we can't go to the hospital because my grandma passed away three hours after we left. I lost my appetite immediately. My heart dropped and I began to cry rapidly.
That week I was depressed and quiet. I cried myself to sleep for two months, feeling like it was my fault for not being there for her. This was my first time going through anything like this and I took it very hard. This happened when I was twelve and till this day I still have sleeping problems and cry to myself and I'm 16 years old now. I know she’s in a better place but I wish I could have spent more time with her.
From the 826CHI Student Publication: Around that Age, I Liked to Play with Fire