Unique is a teenage cancer survivor who aspires to be a writer and public role model for young adults with cancer. One of her biggest influences is Suleika Jaouad, an accomplished writer and member of the Family Reach National Advisory Board.
Here, you will find an excerpt from Unique’s personal story, when she first found out she had cancer:
One weekend my grandfather said, “Hey let’s go to Georgia and visit your mom.”
It was the worst vacation ever. When we got there, I was steaming from the inside. I thought I was melting – cramps, pains, all of the above. Before we knew it, my grandpa was taking me halfway from Georgia back to Florida, where I lived, so my auntie could take me to the doctor at home.
Everything happened so fast from there.
Do you do drugs?
What was the last thing you ate?
All the basics.
They got me into a room and a woman brought in a huge rolling machine with a screen and I thought, weird, why is she rolling in a TV?
She asked me, “On a scale of 1-10, how much does it hurt?” All I could think was, “Is 234,000 a choice?” Maybe not, so I stuck with 10. Slowly but surely, I fell asleep.
Next thing I know I wake up to the coldest, ickiest feeling on my stomach. I lifted my head to see what was taking place and saw the gel on my stomach. The TV screen showed gray and black. And then, I heard the woman yell, “She needs to be taken to St. Petersburg right away!”
In my head I thought, “Oh no, maybe I ate too much…”
At St. Petersburg, the doctor walked in, smiling as usual. I never understood why doctors always had a smile on their face.
She sat down on my bed and got straight down to what I knew was the topic.
“Do you know what a tumor is?” She asked.
“No ma’am, not really,” I said.
“Do you know what cancer is?”
I really didn’t know. I had seen the kids on TV with no hair and the sad St. Jude’s hospital commercials, but didn’t really look into it anymore than that.
I started to cry. I felt myself losing all the tears I hadn’t released before this moment. And yes, I cried harder when I heard the hair falling out part.
I didn’t want to answer any questions or get any hugs or see anyone. I didn’t tell a soul, besides a couple people in my family. I knew their hugs would last a little longer. Their “hey’s” would be a little more enthusiastic or filled with concern. I knew the people that disliked me would all of a sudden want a girls’ day at the mall.
You could say my second home was All Children’s Hospital. The 7th floor was my street and the hospital room became my bedroom. The nurses became like mothers, and doctors were fairy godmothers and fathers who knew exactly what to do, like waving a magic wand.
Thank you, Unique, for sharing your story!
In this video: Unique, Kyle, Bethany, Danielle and Jess have all fought some form of cancer before many kids even start high school. They know what it’s like to feel alone, or to be pegged as “The Kid With Cancer.” They know they’re so much more than that. And they know you are too.
Share your stories with cancer in the comments, or post your own story on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #BeaLifeline and #FamilyReach.