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I Had Cancer; Cancer Never Had Me

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Real talk today is about a very real young lady, who survived a real life threatening illness. She chooses to write about it, and her composition won our 2010 Andre Sobel Essay Award. She writes in a voice that is not only real, but courageous, fascinating, honest and articulate.

We buy magazines that expose the inner working of celebrity lives, but with Emily Ransom's writing, we get a front seat view at a story that we do not often get to see. Our Award winner writes not to a viewing audience, but witnesses her own soul exposing it to a universe that she believes to be kind in spite of all evidence.

Emily was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia at age eleven. Through her experience with cancer, she learned to appreciate relationships and to embrace all opportunities in life as never before. The Andre Sobel Award gave Emily the chance to share her story with others. Emily knows the feeling of lying in a hospital bed being told you have a terminal illness. Fear, confusion, sadness, loneliness and even anger took over her body, but the poem Emily wrote will inspire others on their journey back to health. Emily hopes that others will connect with the feelings and emotions she felt throughout her journey and that they will continue to fight back and to never give up hope!

Today, Emily is a healthy eighteen year-old living her life to the brim. She is currently a freshman at Boston College majoring in Elementary Education. We are certain that she will make an extraordinary teacher bringing to her students the courage, compassion and insight of her experiences.


I Had Cancer; Cancer Never Had Me

By Emily Ransom

It is not my blood under that microscope
They must have mixed up the vials
I will never have to take steroids or chemo
Nausea will not overtake my body each morning
I am not sick, that blood is not mine
My hair will remain attached to my head
A port, what is that? I will never know
Other kids will not pick on me because of my appearance
I will never sleep in a hospital
I am not sick, that blood is not mine
I will never be a cancer patient
Mutated cells are not destroying my body
My life will not change
I will wake up from this horrible nightmare
I am not sick, that blood is not mine

I lost weight because I didn't eat
I didn't eat because I wasn't hungry
I was pale because I didn't go outside
I didn't go outside because my body ached
I was exhausted because I didn't sleep
I didn't sleep because I couldn't quiet my mind
I was weak because I didn't exercise
I didn't exercise because my muscles were feeble
I didn't play with my friends because I watched TV
I watched TV because it didn't take any effort
I wasn't acting like a normal eleven-year-old because I was different
I was different because I had cancer.

It was the chlorine in my drinking water
It was the polluted air in which I breathed
It was the genes passed on by my parents
It was the radiation emitted from the microwave
I am trapped in a body that sabotaged me
It was my blood cells that mutated themselves
It was the spoiled milk that I drank
It was the pen cap I chewed on for days
It was the school lunch I consumed
I am trapped in a body that sabotaged me
It was the time I didn't wear sunscreen
It was the rusty nail on which I stepped
It was the aerosol spray that entered my lungs
It was the pesticides sprayed on my food
I am trapped in a body that sabotaged me

I swallowed the pills because I was sick
I was sick because of a mutated cell
I cried that morning because it hurt to stand
It hurt to stand because my muscles were sore
I fell down in the shower because my back gave out
My back gave out because it was poisoned
I wore a bandana because my hair fell out
My hair fell out because of the chemotherapy I took
I lay in my bed because I was stuck in my room
I was stuck in my room because I couldn't walk down the stairs
I didn't look like a normal eleven-year-old because I was different
I was different because I had cancer

I take back the time I yelled at my siblings
I take back the mean names I called my friends
I take back the anger that escaped my body
I take back the times I forgot to say thank-you
Why is this disease destroying my body?
I take back the times I broke something special
I take back the lie I told my mom
I take back feelings of jealousy towards my peers
I take back the time I said that I hated my family
Why is this disease destroying my body?
I take back the time I ruined the surprise party
I take back the guilt that I made my dad feel
I take back the envy I felt for my sister
I take back the times I pretended to be sick
Why is this disease destroying my body?

I wanted a cause for my terminal illness because I needed a reason
I needed a reason so I would stop blaming myself
I stopped obsessing for answers because I had to face reality
I had to face reality because the truth is that I may never know the cause of my disease
I learned that cancer was more than a disease because it changed my life
It changed my life because it threatened to take it away
I continued to fight because I wasn't ready to die
I wasn't ready to die because I had much more to accomplish
I didn't think like a normal eleven year-old because I was different
I was different because I had cancer

It was my blood under that microscope
They didn't mix up the vials
I had to take steroids and chemo
Nausea took over my body each morning
I was sick, that blood was mine
My hair because unattached from my head
A port was an IV's pathway to my veins
Other kids did pick on me because of my appearance
I slept in a hospital for more nights than I can count
I was sick, that blood was mine
I was a cancer patient at Fletcher Allen Health Care
Mutated cells were destroying my body
My life changed dramatically
I never woke up from that reality
I was sick, that blood was mine

I look at the world with different eyes because I am a survivor
I am a survivor because I never lost hope
I look forward to the future because I know it is bright
I know that it is bright because I will embrace every opportunity
I will pursue my dreams because I desire to become a teacher
I desire to be a teacher because that is my destiny
I am thankful for my doctors, nurses, family, and friends because they helped save me
They helped save me because I had a life to live
I am proud of myself because I conquered leukemia
I conquered leukemia because I am strong.

I had cancer; cancer NEVER had me.

To make a donation in Emily's honor, click here.