Name: Tierra Seymour
From: League CIty, Texas
Grade: High School Senior
School: Clear Falls High School
The patient shakes, her feeble arm plastered with goosebumps. The
room is a standard 63 degrees. The air is crisp, cool, and sterile.
The physician’s hands are gloved. The warm blue latex seems to
comfort the teenage girl, and some of the goosebumps fade. Her blue
eyes and fair skin seem incomplete without her blonde hair, small
patches peeking from her bald head. Her body is weak, but her eyes
scream of hope.
The physician’s practiced hands lift her right arm, almost
effortlessly. She feels for the vein in the patient’s wrist. It
takes less than a second, the blue vein protruding from her
weightless forearm. The intravenous needle gleams. The hope in the
patient’s eyes diminishes from hope to fear. I’ve seen this
transition many times today. A patient’s first chemical therapy
session is never pleasant.
The insertion of the needle is quick, but the fear in the patient’s
eyes will last for hours after her first session. They won’t fade
for at least months afterward, when the effects of the drugs have
already truly began to take control of her body, shutting her down
while attempting to lift her up. The physician smiles, but her voice
doesn’t quite match her appearance.
I shift my gaze from the patient to her mother. Her eyes are sunken in,
drowsy, yet still swollen from the tears that flowed just minutes
before the appointment. They express far more fear than her daughter,
who sits on her phone, passing time and smirking at her screen.
Unbeknownst to her, her story was coming to a conclusion and fast.
She felt as though her pages were slowly turning, whereas her mother
saw her quickly deteriorating, pages flipping by the handful.
My third and final summer at MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) brought
about the opportunity to appreciate many stories, including my own.
In the 210 hours spent in the facility, I experienced between 10-20
losses, and countless others in critical condition. Mainly, I
wondered how their biographies started, but all I was able to see
were the endings.
This quick transition into the reality of cancer and disease was a
game-changer for me. Outside the confinements of our privileged lives
lies an entire world of exploration, triumph, and in many cases at
MDACC, danger, and sickness. Our lives can turn down any of these
passageways at any moment.
The genres of our life stories can vary from person to person, yet
ironically, all of our stories begin the same – new, naïve,
innocent. These past summers have illuminated a harsh veracity for
me. Sooner or later, all of our biographies, whether they excite our
emotions or depress them, will end. We spend our time trying to
improve our novels, revising different parts and analyzing the plot.
What we fail to understand is that many times, we read too deeply
into individual facets, and we lose sight of what we began writing
for in the first place.
As I evolve into a new chapter in my autobiography, I think of the many
novels I immersed myself in these past summers. I’ve learned that
picking apart each and every aspect of my life is not going to help
me recover lost chapters or reveal alternate endings. We cannot
fathom how close we are to the conclusion. All we can do is what we
do best – continue to write.