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My disease was nothing but a reminder that there is no fear as long as you don't show it.

I hate “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten. Of all lyrics to skip, my fingers are consistently eager to reach that button. Not because of what it’s about, or who it’s by, but because it’s never quite ceased to follow me. Bringing such a displeasing, nostalgic pierce to my ears. To this day, I still cannot bare to listen.

At the age of nine, I’d been able to say I’d slept on more than one different hospital bed. Dehumanized by an essence breathing heavily throughout my bloodstream, I was left quickly with only a bare complexion and a lack of hemoglobin. I became immune to the fervency of doctors, my innocence left bereft. My best friends became IV poles and fatigue was my biggest enemy. Hair loss, homeschooling, spinal taps, all while every pore oozed with chemo. I conducted my lifestyle under conditions simulating the promise of death itself, but I didn’t know why… I was subjected to four weeks of torture by the time my parents finally said it: Cancer. I don’t blame them, but it was certainly confounding. I remember the pain in their eyes; their soft touch. At that very moment, I consoled and assured them that everything would be okay, unaware of the future effects ahead of me. But why, above all, have I been able to sustain a smile through every challenge?

Ironic, I know. It’s ironic to think that any diseased child could even hint at the thought of happiness, let alone share a smirk. Of course, I didn’t know what cancer was, all I knew was its bitter hostility and my smile. Present day, just recently celebrating my sixth anniversary, I reflect on my illness with pleasure: I am satisfied that if it weren’t for my early onset maturity, I would not have been as open, and positive-minded as I’ve learned to be today. My parents taught me to tell the truth; that everyone makes mistakes even with the best intentions of their child. My doctors taught me about the realities I’d never known existed. My fortitude served me well throughout my illness: I was blessed to build relationships with fellow patients, which only made the battle

just a little easier. Both fortunately and unfortunately, I’d been given the opportunity to see firsthand, other families that suffered like my own, allowing me to empathize on levels I’d never imagined; to cope with them, exchanging knowledge, wisdom, and support; allowing myself to learn how to distract others from their burdens, at least for a little while. I’ve grown to be a nurturer, a giver, and a shoulder to lean on; my concern for others can take me to great lengths. My curiosity led me to establish my dream profession of being a doctor: to continue my education and give back to others the way they helped me; to tum the tables for good and provide hope to children everywhere. I’ve instilled resilience by overlooking misfortune and appreciating each small success. I grasped the concept of courage when I stopped looking for the approval of a mirror; that there is no limit other than myself. I’ve learned the importance of appreciating the little things and how to build relationships with my circumstances. It’s harsh to admit, but if it weren’t for cancer, who knows if I’d ever be offered this chance to grow?

A lot of times, success and the determination to succeed can be found lacking drive, purpose, and initiative; success requires the need to make a difference, to deliver worth, and prove to yourself and others that it is very well possible as long as you let it be possible. My past cannot define me, but only foreshadow the achievements to follow me from there on out. Life doesn’t always prepare you for life, but something in my mind reminded me that I was prepared. I knew how to overcome by fending for myself; something inside of me already instilled the necessary actions required for my prolonged success. Although I’ve lacked self-confidence in the past, my confidence in self-growth and becoming a better me will never be satisfied. My disease was nothing but a reminder that there is no fear as long as you don’t show it. Most importantly, I know that I am more than just a disease, nor the words to any song: My name is KellyAnne, and I hate Rachel Platten’s, “Fight Song.”