Going into my freshman year of high school, I had just started playing football for the first time, and between practices and homework, I was having real trouble finding time for the camping trips and boy scout activities I’d always loved. I had always been told, though, that playing sports while remaining active in your troop is very attainable if you’re dedicated enough, so I put my head down and attempted a balance between these commitments. Sure, there were occasional conflicts, but I set my priorities straight and even served as the capital SPL, never missed a meeting. I was beginning to feel my first big time crunch, but I managed.
However, things soon didn’t feel right as a lump in my left armpit slowly grew. My mom arranged a doctor’s visit after I mentioned it to her, but he reassured us that it was likely only a clogged sweat gland. This was my first year in football, after all, and my body probably wasn’t used to the constant sweating and dirtiness. But, as the mass continued to grow and my energy waned in the evenings, I knew something was wrong I brought this up again to my mom after a football practice, and she immediately brought me to a local prompt care. This visit led to a biopsy, and soon enough I was diagnosed with ALCL a type of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma I had cancer, and my priorities quickly turned on their head.
I mean, of course right? Thinking about it, I had always heard stories about people “fighting bravely” following a cancer diagnosis. But the sword of powerlessness I felt looking at the bald-headed kids in the waiting room of St jude, knowing I would soon become one of them, evokes almost and iconic hilarity about the situation. What more could I really do but sit through the chemotherapy treatment to come and wait for all this to blow over?
My new oncologist almost immediately began the first of my sixth plan treatments, which involved a 6-day hospital stay while I receive chemotherapy. The constant ensuing stays and check ups scraped by with a painful slowness, and I wanted nothing more then to return to the life of high school, football, and boy scouts I previously taken for granted. My constant walks through the hospital’s unknowns kept me saying, but I inevitably return to the same austere room on the fourth floor. This gross over abundance of time was a frustrating reversal of the crunch I feltBefore, and I often felt myself half-consciously staring at the clock opposite my bed, counting the hours till I’d be set free.
But this simple, Borden – driven fixation soon became important to me, as I made a seemingly everyday observation which changed my perspective on many things in life. That clock kept on ticking. It was always counting down the seconds, completely indifferent to my situation. No matter what, it just kept on ticking.
With this, I began to realize that this whole cancer experience would be over in its time. I trusted I was in good hands with my doctors, and although the five months they said treatment should last seemed like an infinite stretch of suspension and hardship, it became so much more manageable knowing that time could not slow down, and it would all be over after so many revolutions of the clock.
I was officially declared in remission after these 5 months of treatment, and could finally get back to my life as I knew it before. Since then, I experienced another important realization about that clock: it also keeps ticking for our everyday lives. Many of us take things for granted, and go through the motions of school or scouting or whatever else it is we do. But if it’s worth doing, why not do it well? Why not go for that a in calculus, apply to that college you think you don’t have a shot at, go on that camping trip, immerse yourself in pursuing that curious passion, or enjoy every second spent with friends?
After realizing my passion for camping while in the hospital, I didn’t miss a single monthly camp out for almost 2 years afterwards, which enabled me to still earn my ego well before my 18th birthday. And although I sometimes procrastinate more than I should, I’ve endeavored to maintain almost straight A’s throughout my high school career, and have just recently achieved my long-time goal of being accepted into Purdue for engineering. I’ve also found enormous personal success in swimming and track, and despite some remaining weakness and nerve damage in my left arm, my coaches can hardly discern a difference.
Through all this, I’ve learned that at the end of the day, we need to accept that not everything is going to go perfect in life. But, we can achieve amazing things by using our precious seconds wisely, and enjoying the times when things are going right. Take chances, work hard, and explore; and in the hardest times remember that the clock keeps on ticking.