This month is pediatric cancer awareness month. Anyone who knows our family knows that we are unfortunately all too familiar with cancer. My brother Joseph was diagnosed with cancer 13 years ago when he was 3 years old with Megeloblastoma - brain cancer. When they found the tumor in his brain, it was the size of a lemon, filling up a large majority of his little head.
The years of his radiation and chemo therapy are not years that I like to think back on. The memories that I have of that year are too sad; such as watching my mom trying to explain to a three year old why he couldn't go home from the hospital after his brain surgery. And that of watching my sister lift up his little weak body, to weak to stand on his own, and help him put his ornaments on the Christmas tree. And another of me sitting with him at the top of our staircase begging him to eat the ramen that my mom had just fixed, for I knew is he didn't a feeding tube was going to be the next step.
But despite all of these horribly sad memories that I have, one thing remains constant through them all. That is Joseph's perseverance and positive outlook on it all. When I remember those times, as sad as they were, I remember a happy smiling Joseph.
Joseph is in remission now, but it has not been an easy 13 years for him. Recently he underwent his third brain surgery to remove his third tumor. He has suffered through everyday growth hormone shots, regular cat scans, endless doctors visit, deteriorating eye and ear function, learning disabilities, social situations and many, many more hardships. But once again despite all of this, the memories that I have of him are always ones of him smiling - not matter what he may be suffering with at the time.
Joseph is a hero of mine. I want to have his outlook on life. I want to have to love for life that is so infectious to all when you are around him. I want to center my life and love around my family and make them my universe just as he does with his family.
Thank you Joseph for the continous fight. You are an inspiration to all. We love you so much.
Please keep the many, many other childhood cancer patients in your prayers.