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Column: Rewriting my future

‘Not like 5-year-old scary where monsters and the dark were my biggest concern, but scary like having no insurance and having a social worker for therapy’

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Column: Rewriting my future

"Although my tumor wasn’t cancerous the chemotherapy was the final resort after several failed attempts of embolizations." Courtesy of Stephany Jara.

"Although my tumor wasn’t cancerous the chemotherapy was the final resort after several failed attempts of embolizations." Courtesy of Stephany Jara.

"Although my tumor wasn’t cancerous the chemotherapy was the final resort after several failed attempts of embolizations." Courtesy of Stephany Jara.

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I twiddle my thumbs on the congested elevator as my heart beats fearfully for the news I am about to receive. It’s my final visit to Children’s Hospital for my annual check-up regarding a now inactive tumor located near my heart. I started receiving chemotherapy when I was 6 months old, although my tumor wasn’t cancerous the chemotherapy was the final resort after several failed attempts of embolizations.

I arrive on the sixth floor and walk the long halls toward the section of the hospital titled “chemotherapy.” Soaking in the colorful murals and crafts on the walls made by past children here, I pass countless fish tanks, butterflies, spaceships and trains that if I turn my head slightly, it kind of looks like a rocket. I wonder how much different and dull the “adult hospital” would be? If instead of little trinkets on the walls, they’re stark white and the only colors lining the walls are pamphlets warning me of diabetes, depression and bronchitis.

Although I’ve basically grown up in the hospital, this trip seemed different – almost nostalgic. I always knew that eventually I’d have to leave Children’s Hospital, but part of me never thought that day would come. I felt like I had all the time in the world before I’d have to be discharged, but that simply wasn’t the case. Eighteen seemed far away for my younger naive self, but it was here and it was scary. Not like 5 year old scary where monsters and the dark were my biggest concern, but scary like having no insurance and having a social worker for therapy. What once seemed like a field trip and an excuse to skip school, now turned into another doctor’s appointment that I schedule every spring break so I don’t miss any more class time than I have to.

And that change scares me.

It seemed like I was in the waiting room for an eternity before the nurse finally called my name. She directed me to a room where Dr. Libby and Dr. Cindy were waiting. After they reviewed my blood results, we touched on my mental health and how I’ve been doing recently. Because my insurance expires soon, they recommended me to talk to their social worker about therapy. Even though I was only a patient to them, they wanted the best for me; I literally grew up before their eyes and I felt a deeper sense of comfort and connection with them.

After talking with my doctors and a social worker about my next step toward my transition into the “adult world,” I felt a lot more confident knowing that I’d still have my doctors’ and family’s support. I was born a fighter, and I am eternally grateful for having my parents by my side because without them, I don’t think I’d be here today.

Leaving Children’s Hospital wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be because in a way, it was a step closer toward kissing part of my childhood goodbye. Although I’m supposed to feel happy about finally being independent, I feel relieved knowing my family will still be here for me. Although I am scared for what will happen next, I am now excited for the future. I now know that with the strength of my family and the guidance of my doctors, I can overcome anything that comes my way.

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Column: Rewriting my future