I’m Denise Esposito – A Survivor!


“You are too young to understand”, “You do not know how to make decisions for yourself’, “Why is it you feel like you know everything?” People have an extremely peculiar way of posing such questions to teenagers. Many adults feel as though we are naive, ignorant and much too inexperienced to even contrive a remotely intelligent solution to the many problems that arise within our lives. We are classified as unwise due to our short existence, and therefore
almost the majority of the world is under the false pretense that we are incompetent.


But what is it that finally allows one to become sage? What age is it expected that a young teenager transforms into someone taken seriously? What is it that admits us into the exclusive group of which is wisdom?  They say that teens are too young to really grasp the true essence of life and be able to embody its actual grief. But what happens when that teenager has undergone a huge amount of suffering and even became involved in experiences a person in their forties might never have encountered?


Fifteen. Fifteen, was the exact age I was when I obtained my first dose of the “real world”. Officially it goes by Low Grade Osteogenic Sarcoma, unofficially it can be summed up into one word that everyone understands; cancer. It is exceptionally ironic that just before my sudden diagnosis I viewed my life as being completely quintessential; appearing that I was commencing an abrupt hatred for my typical, mainstream being. However, that little sentiment
did not seem to last long. In some of my worst days, I began to come to realize what I truly desired; my normal, somewhat boring, uneventful life back, although, my mother would constantly reassure me that we would “create a new normal”. Mentally, when you are sick all that you think about is getting better, rarely dwelling on your current state. But, when you are finally in remission that is when it all hits you.


Your body begins to undergo withdrawals and it is almost as if you spend your time just waiting for the day when you receive the news you have heard once before. That twinge, that inkling of trepidation never seems to vacate your own mind, no matter the hours spent trying to expel it from the brain. Yet, the discomfort is not the ultimate worst component of this disease. For me, yes, the pain was agonizing and the nights sleepless, but in all honesty the most deplorable fragment of this whole situation was the realizations it brought about. So many instances where you are under the illusion that an abundant amount of your closest friends and family will be there for you. You have it set in your mind that those are undoubtedly the people you can count on. Nevertheless, I learned the hard way only a handful stay true to their word.


I understood that people have busy lives and that it is an extreme hassle to come into the city on a weekday to visit me in the hospital; so I was okay with the fact that I did not have all of my friends there with me at my first, second and third surgeries. But what about the other three surgeries underwent? Where were they then? Was a detrimental disease not significant enough to be considered and penciled into their schedule? If that desolate emotion was not enough, I was also experiencing something else at the time. Due to the fact that my cancer was only low grade, my case did not call for chemotherapy and or radiation. One would believe this to be quite a blessing, still at times I felt almost as if, people would downplay all that I went through because I did not need more aggressive treatment.


I was lucky enough that the doctors caught the tumor at an early stage. Unfortunately, because of this I convinced myself I was out of place. Looking around, I was surrounded by a multitude of sweet, precious children going through something much more abhorrent than I was. Subsequently, an intense emotion of guilt arose within me, why was I feeling so bad for myself when everyone there had much more problematic issues? It was as if when being in my own natural habitat I was the “sick one” that many pitied, but in the hospital I was the “lucky one”. In both of my daily environments I was on the opposite end of the spectrum; at home I was in too bad of a state to attend to my usual doings but in the hospital I was the one healthier than most. I felt isolated and alone, no one knew just exactly the thoughts that resided in the back of my mind.


Fifteen. Fifteen was the exact age I was when I obtained my first dose of the “real world”.  Many would argue that it is just too soon to be viewed as enlightened but I like to believe that I have risen on the waiting list for spot in the exclusive club of which is wisdom.


~Denise Esposito


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