Where’s a Cure?

       My grandmother died of breast cancer when my mother was only 12 years old. This completely changed the way she grew up. Two brothers and a hardworking father, but no mother. Through her teens years, she had to learn from the boys around her, even while growing up as a girl. Through treatment, my mom took care of my grandmother. Walking her mom from room to room, helping her to use the bathroom, and constantly doing the most she could as a child acting as a parent.

Fast forward 20 years, she has me, a girl to raise. She takes her mothering role very seriously and keeps me on the right path no matter what she has to sacrifice to keep me there. When I turned 12, I remember her breaking down and I didn’t understand why. Her mother’s land in the south needed to be paid, but my mother was having financial problems at the time and couldn’t pay the bill. She was paranoid that the land would be sold. That land is something our family holds dear to their hearts and she broke down.

       She then explained to me that it wasn’t just the land but that I was 12 and, well, cancer runs in our family, so she was scared it might be her turn. While we were at a stop light, she looked at me and began to cry.

       My strong, independent, beautiful, and intelligent hard-working mother was now just facing some of the hardest times in her life through me. After 30 years at this time, she was still affected by everything that had happened when she was just my age.

       I can’t imagine life without my mother. I can’t imagine living the way my mother did at my age. Not only was my mother forced to inhabit selfless characteristics, but patient ones as well. While she was taking care of my grandmother, she asked herself every single day, “Where’s a cure?”.

       Cancer doesn’t just affect the people who face it daily, but also the generations that follow. The Cure Campaign is here to raise voice to a matter that can only be dealt with by people who truly care like my mother, my grandmother, as well as me and this hard-working team. Let’s raise voice to cancer so my mother nor anyone else in the world never needs to ask “Where’s a cure?” again.

 

– Danielle Williams, 15

 

Ron Mervin Gonsky

Ron Mervin Gonsky. My grandpa was an incredible man who devoted his life to helping others. I had the honor of being his granddaughter for 15 years. My dad had the honor of being his son for 48 years.

I guess you could say my grandpa’s cancer wasn’t all that unique. Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men and on average around 165,000 new cases per year in the United States. He was diagnosed April 2010. He fought for 8 wonderful years and passed away July 1, 2018. He was surrounded by 2 sons, a daughter on facetime, 2 daughters-in-law, 3 granddaughters, his wife, and an incredible hospice staff.

Throughout the last 4 months of his life, my family face timed Oompah to maximize the amount of time we had left with him. My dad knew it was coming soon. – he’s a hematologist-oncologist and treats prostate cancer for a living. I had been preparing myself for his death for a whole year, but nobody could’ve prepared me for what I was feeling. Oompah was my first grandparent to pass away and it was hard. The hardest part though was seeing my dad have to be a son and a doctor at the same time. My dad was tracking Oompah’s cancer from the very first day he was diagnosed – making sure Oompahs’s doctors put him on any new clinical trial and gave him the most current medicine and treatment. I think my dad wanted to treat Oompah just like one of his other patients but he couldn’t. Seeing him so vulnerable but trying to keep a strong face gave me a different appreciation and empathy for him. I couldn’t help but picture myself in his situation and it was extremely unnerving. There was no way I would ever be ready to say goodbye to my dad.

When my family went to visit Oompah for the last time in his final days, he was in a bed barely moving and barely talking. It was painful to see my strong, athletic, adventurous grandpa so weak. Cancer is a killing machine and it won’t make excuses for anybody. It can affect any person no matter their gender, age, or health.

 

Shiloh Gonsky, 15

He Was My Teacher

In 2012 there was a worldwide population of 7,128,176,935. In 2012 alone, 1.97% of the population was newly diagnosed with cancer. 1.97% does not seem like a large percentage, but that’s 14.1 million lives completely changed. One does not have to have cancer to be affected by it. Statistics prove that in a lifetime you will know someone with cancer. I do.

David Coils: a design and technology teacher. A father of two, a husband, and a human. In November 2011,  David was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a common form of bone cancer. While it usually starts in the arm or pelvis, David’s started in his legs. It robbed him of the ability to freely walk without significant pain, to climb upstairs to say goodnight to his kids, and to sleep next to his wife. However, the doctors and nurses that worked with David helped a great deal, constantly providing support within his house and ensuring his family was aware of everything.

Within only a few months, David Coils’ condition drastically improved. He could teach again, walk comfortably, and live. His family continued to support him and so did the staff in the school he worked at.

I was taught by Mr. Coils for three years. The joy he brought into the classroom was the same as it had always been. It was as if he had never been away. His skills were the same and so was his personality. It lasted longer than anyone had anticipated. Yes, there were bad days. He still had cancer, but the better days pulled him through.

He started to undergo chemotherapy February of 2017. Before starting, they found it had spread to his pelvis, and it was not likely that it was going to stop there. The chemo affected David in a way that changed him; He was not teaching. That was the one thing that gave him so much happiness. He was not building, the one thing that distracted him from his pain. He became angry, and he was not the man everyone knew him to be. We do not blame him. It was the cancer’s fault. He lost his hair, and he lost his smile.

The cancer developed and spread. It took over like a monster taking over a city. It was undefeatable. David Andrew Coils lost his battle to cancer in July 2017. He was a human and like every human he was not programmed to have such a powerful illness. David was such a happy man and no one will ever forget the way he used to light a room, the way he pulled through and was so strong. The world lost a beautiful, joyful, and talented man, so did everyone who knew him.

If a cure is not found, too many lives are going to be detrimentally changed and taken. I have seen this happen with my own eyes. I will not let it happen again. 

 

Oliver Frater, 17

She Was My Mother

Death is unexpected. I’m not saying this in some sort of eerie way, but it is. In January 2017, I had to start thinking about death. In January of 2017, my mother got pancreatic cancer. Cancer was not something I had ever thought of before. No one close to me had ever had it. I didn’t really care. But when my mom got diagnosed, I had to care. At first, I buried the pain deep inside and pretended it wasn’t there. She can’t be THAT sick, I told myself. But the reality was harsher. I didn’t know how deadly pancreatic cancer was. I don’t think I will ever understand what it did to her. I am not very good at science. I don’t understand exactly how the body works. When my mom got surgery, I thought the cancer was gone. I really believed that everything was fine. It wasn’t.

My mother died on November 15th, 2017. Three days earlier her doctors had decided to take her off chemo. It was too late.  By the next day, the cancer had spread to her liver, lungs, and kidneys. The feelings I had during the three days she was alive after chemo were three of the strangest days of my life. It was not sadness necessarily. For me, the situation was a bit laughable. A continual thought played on a loop, over and over through my mind: Why is this happening to her? For my whole life, my mother was the epitome of put together. She was always healthy. You would never expect something like this to happen to her. But cancer doesn’t care. Cancer does not care if you are healthy. Cancer does not care about the color of your skin or your diet. Cancer can attack anyone at any moment, and that is was I learned from losing my mother. It can happen to anyone. 

Everybody knows somebody. Whether it is a friend, grandfather, distant cousin or mother. Cancer affects everyone. I am not the most educated person on the topic of cancer research. In fact, when my mother got cancer my sister did all the research. She wanted to learn everything about what was happening. I didn’t. It devastated me to know about this monster that was taking my mother from me. Now that she is gone, all I can do is try to help others. I don’t want other children to experience what I have experienced. I don’t want other husbands to experience what my father experienced. I don’t want anyone to experience what my mother experienced. We need a cure. We are the future, and The Cure Campaign can help. It can help everyone. Everyone knows someone and that should not be the case. I will not lose anyone else to cancer. I refuse to stay silent anymore.

 

Bella Klaidman, 15

Cancer Does Not Discriminate, Healthcare Can’t Either

“ Of all the forms of inequality, injustice.. healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.” Stated by Dr. Martin Luther King, these words still apply to today, for the healthcare crisis in America is strongly devastating. This is especially evident when it comes to women’s health and the access to a life saving mammogram. Currently, the average cost of a mammogram can range anywhere from 100 to over 200 dollars. If uninsured, this cost can and will add up. According to cancer.org, it is recommended that a woman should start to go for annual mammograms between the ages of 40 to 50. With that said, if women were to get a mammograms every year starting at 40 for over 30 years, the cost would be over $3,000.

          For many people in America, this may not be accessible. If given the choice to spend $100, it is not spent on getting a mammogram. It is spent on feeding and providing for a family. Nobody should ever have to make the choice between starvation and dying from breast cancer that could have been treated.

Many people may attempt to refute the importance of a mammogram by saying that even if it were to detect something, it would not necessarily save one’s life. While this is true, reports show that getting a mammogram allows “a diagnosis at an earlier stage”, and in turn “help to avoid much more aggressive treatments” in the future (Breast Cancer.org). Knowing that this test could save hundreds of lives, it should not be and it cannot be only for those who can afford it. No woman should be too poor to be able to save her own life. When people have to accept death because they cannot afford to survive, we as a country are failing them. In order to ensure that all women get the help they need and deserve, we must look to Universal Health Care, or UHC. UHC provides an opportunity to save lives that is not only possible but in reality probable.

The World Healthcare Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations concerned with international public health, explains that UHC would not only provide every citizen with equal opportunity to healthcare (regardless of race, sex, and financial income), but it would also ensure that the quality of care is equal for all. People in this country cannot continue to die from something that could be prevented and unquestionably fixed by the government.

In a 2016 census, statistics showed that 88 percent of the 27.3 million uninsured Americans were over the age of 18. Records show that number is growing tremendously. Furthermore, it manifested a sexist gap between men and women when it comes to insurance. When compared to the 44% of men insured through their job, only 35% of women get that same “luxury” (Kaiser, 2018). This graph shows that women who cannot work, even for those who can, the chances of being covered by healthcare are significantly lower. When it comes to life saving medicine, nobody should be at a disadvantage. However, the wage gap and the healthcare crisis in this country are putting women at a scary disadvantage. The need for a mammogram and the extraordinary impact it can have on one’s life can no longer be overlooked. Universal Healthcare is a must when talking about the safety and the protection of human life.  Cancer doesn’t discriminate, so healthcare can’t either.