BENEFITING: The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp
EVENT: Team HITW NYC Marathon 2016
EVENT DATE: Nov 06, 2016
I was nine years old when I was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. It is a rare bone cancer and it was growing on my left shoulder blade. Before I found out I was like every other nine year old out there, I felt invincible. When my Oncologist told me that I had cancer I thought I had a reasonable reaction, “Okay we have got medicine for that right? This is 2006 after all.” I was blissfully ignorant of what was to come. I was put on a six week rotation of chemotherapy. Week one: I was in the hospital receiving chemo and these drugs always had the greatest effect on me. Week two: I was (hopefully) back at home receive daily injections from my mom that were intended to boost my immune system because at times the number used to quantify my immune system was zero. This was a particularly dangerous week because my body couldn’t fight for itself so a fever could and did get me rushed to the hospital. Week three: This was my by week and I was feeling “better”. Week four: Back in the hospital for the second round of drugs this round was longer but slightly easier on my body. Weeks five and six were the same as weeks two and three. And then about three quarters of the way through all of my chemo I had surgery to remove two thirds of my left shoulder blade restricting the movement and coordination of my left arm.
I didn’t really know what to do. I would be in the hospital for so long and then I couldn’t hang out with friends. I couldn’t go to school, in fact I even missed it! You run out of ways the wait out the day. When your body is so weak that moving around is a tiring task your options are already limited. There was only so much daytime nickelodeon what I could watch! I learned the backyardigans theme song by heart pretty quickly.
But then I heard about The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp from Kevin Rice when we painted together at my Oncologist’s. The painting still hangs in my room today. The first time I ever got to camp I was late. I had to come in during the middle of the session for medical reasons. Alby the counselor from Albania greeted me at the entrance to cabin circle. I hugged my mom goodbye and didn’t look back. My mom wasn’t too happy about that but I was busy taking in all the Hole in the Wall is. That half of a week was the best week of my life up till that point. That has now changed; it is now my senior week at camp.
Camp really is something else. It made me fee like I could do things again! It sounds strange, but I don’t want to say that it made me feel like a kid again because camp gave me this feeling every time I go. From nine to fifteen camp always picked me up and left me feeling invincible again. I used to be feel useless sometimes because my left arm doesn’t work as well. Camp taught me that I should never feel that way. I just need to do some things differently. I also used to be very insecure about the giant scar on my left shoulder blade area. But at the pool at camp if I’m not wearing a shirt, no one stares. I am normal. Camp even changed what I want to do with my life. I was thinking that I wanted to become an oncologist because of the amazing doctors I had. And then when I was an LIT 1 in 2013 I saw all the kids I would be helping and that sealed the deal.
Now I am cancer free and have been for nine years. I am a sophmore at Hamilton college, studying Chemistry and plans to then go on to Medical School. I still think about camp almost every day. I have bandanas from my years at camp hanging up in my dorm room and almost all my t shirts are hole in the wall shirts.
I joined Team Hole in the Wall for the New York marathon because what Hole in the Wall has done for me is priceless. I owe hole in the wall almost everything and all I want to do is give back so other kids can have the same life changing experience I had.