April 15th to many means Tax Day – to me it means End of Treatment. April 15, 1996, I received my last dose of chemotherapy; I walked out of the outpatient clinic knowing I had made it! I survived a 2.5-year battle with childhood leukemia. When I was diagnosed, I was told my treatment would last 2 years and I looked forward to 1996. Due to chemo holds and delays because my body took longer to recover, it took an extra 4 months for me to complete treatment.
To someone who has never had cancer, you would think this is a day to celebrate and it is. But what people don’t know about the end of treatment day is that it can be filled with thoughts of anxiety and fear. Chemotherapy was my safety net, it was keeping my cancer at bay and preventing it from returning. I wondered if the leukemia would come back when the chemo ended? It was also a day filled with sadness because my nurses and doctors had become my family, for 2.5 years I built a relationship with them and now I wasn’t going to see them as much anymore. A chapter of my life was over.
I was 16 years old and a sophomore in High School when I finished treatment. Being a Monday, I didn’t have a big party planned, but to my surprise that evening, a former classmate showed up at my door with a single peach rose. He was the boy, I had always had a crush on, we rode the bus together, he had come to the hospital with me to see what outpatient treatment was really like and he took the time to understand what I was going through. So, for him to show up at my door was an incredible feeling of joy and excitement, he was there to celebrate with me. I had not seen him for almost two years because we went to different high schools. Spending a few hours with him catching up, playing the piano, and shooting pool took my mind off the anxiety and sadness.
His kindness that day is what I remember about April 15th. A peach rose is still my favorite flower, not just because he gave it to me, but because it represents friendship, hope, and survival. So, to that boy, Thank You!