Growing up I was always told that you never know what you have until it’s gone. It wasn’t until last year when I truly knew what this meant and felt like. In October of last year, the stomach bug had been going around in my little cousin Dylan’s fourth grade class, and he thought he had it. He was sick for a few days when my Aunt Becky, his mother, decided it was necessary to see a doctor. What came next will be something she will never forget. The doctor looked into Dylan’s eyes, backed up slowly, and solemnly said, “You need to take him to CHOP immediately”. A forty-five-minute drive must have felt like forever. A few hours later we received a call saying Dylan was receiving a Cat scan of his brain. The next call sunk our hearts: What we thought was the seemingly annoying stomach bug was actually life threatening cancer scattered across his brain.
Dylan was 9 years old when his life was instantly changed forever. Basketball, video games, going to school, and even sleeping in his own bed became out of reach. Every day Dylan became weaker and more inaudible. He lay in his hospital bed now bald and pale, but one thing remained: a smile. Every time I walked into his room at CHOP I was greeted with a smile that lit up the entire room. His positivity at just nine years old was remarkable. He knew what was wrong with him and what could happen, but he always had told us he was going to be okay. Every time I walked into his hospital room I tried to push my tears back up but sometimes I just couldn’t help but sob. As my family and I sat around his bed from time to time he seemed to be the one comforting us, telling us how much he loved all of us and that we shouldn’t cry because he was going to be okay. Even though he was younger, he for sure made me look like a big baby. He was stronger than everyone of us and that strength helped him become cancer free. Dylan is now going part time to 5th grade and attends physical therapy daily. And everyday he still wears that same smile on his face. This experience has taught me to never take anything for granted because you truly never know what you have until it is gone. The simplest things we take for granted can be stripped away from us at any moment. So cherish everything in your life at every moment.