Second Chances


Cancer is a word that my family knows well. My mother’s uncle died of lung cancer, and my father’s grandmother and aunt both passed away after long battles with breast cancer. However, never in their wildest dreams could they imagine hearing this word uttered about the health of their son. Moreover,little did I know how this disease would help me develop into a more positive individual who has realized his true calling in life.


As long as I can remember, I have never taken anything too seriously. My mission in life has always involved humor. I remember a time when my second grade teacher told my mother during a parent-teacher conference that I “had perfect comedic timing.” When he stated this, I swelled with pride; it felt even better than getting all A’s on a report card. Even though I consider my parents to be humorous as well, they have always expected my sister and me to work and behave to our fullest potential.


Sometimes, they were a little too strict, and I always wondered how my friends could get away with things that I could not. As a result, I started staying in my room. To me, this seemed easier than doing something to get myself into trouble with them. I guess that this is normal teenage behavior, but I remember keeping many things from them that I just could not communicate.


This phase in my life happened during the beginning of my sophomore year of high school. In a way, I became somewhat of a zombie right before I was diagnosed.  I loafed around, slept for countless hours, and wasted most nights staying up performing mundane tasks. I had lost the wonder and zest for life that I had felt in prior years. Although I still enjoyed making people laugh, I had no focus or direction for my future at all. Worst of all, I felt the relationship that I had with my parents start to dwindle.


I was diagnosed with stage IV diffuse large B-cell lymphoma at the end of my sophomore year. At first, I could not get rid of a cough. I then started getting sick every time I did any physical activity. This was not stupendous news for me since I was a distance runner on the track team. At first, my doctor thought it was mononucleosis. However, after I lost about fifteen pounds within two weeks, my doctor ordered blood tests. My father took me to all of those visits, and he was the first of my parents to hear that cancer might be a possibility. His face went white, and my heart dropped. I never want to see that look on my father’s face again. He called my mother, and I am glad I could not hear her reaction. I clearly remember that my first concern was that I did not want to worry them. I wanted to make them happy and convince them that I would not perish.


I tried to go through my treatment with a positive attitude. I could not stand the look of pity that everyone gave me; thus, I tried to make everyone continually smile.  Because I could tell how worried my parents and sister were about me, I always told them that everything would work out. Eventually, I guess I said it enough to believe it myself. I had long talks and prayers with my parents during treatment, and somehow, that awful disease brought us extremely closer as a family. Although it may sound unorthodox, I will forever feel grateful for this part of the experience
even though I know that they still worry about juggling hospital bills with college expenses.


Our family dynamic was not the only transformation I experienced through cancer. The whole grueling experience showed me the clock of my life; it forced me to notice how death waits around the corner, preparing for its next victim. I realized that I have to take every opportunity that life has to offer. During treatment, I had urges that I had never experienced before. I sat in bed and fantasized about bounding up mountains, learning to surf, and trying exotic foods. I just wanted the chance to make something of my life, and now I feel extremely blessed that I have
been given a second chance to do exactly that.


Fighting this battle opened my eyes to my true purpose in life. During the worst moments of my treatment, I fell in love with movies and media more than ever, escaping into them and leaving the reality of my condition behind. These epic tales taught me wonderful stories about life and the magic that surrounds us. I was truly inspired by them. They helped me trudge through the toughest time of my life, and I hope that one day I will do the same for someone else. Through this art, I can bring light to major issues to millions of people. Once I learn and master my craft, I will use my experiences to write about important and amazing events through television and film.


Soon, through the power of writing, my path will lead me to help, not just the people around me, but also a global community in times of need, even if it is just to spread laughter and joy throughout the world.  Many elements of battling cancer were excruciating; however,I have emerged into an individual who better knows the beauty of life that God has to offer, the kindness of others, the importance of family relationships, and the courage to take chances and chase dreams. By continuing my education through media and cinema studies, I plan to spread.



~~Dawson Furnish



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