What having cancer taught me


Skyler Simpson

Every year, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has a walk to prevent and raise awareness for childhood cancer.

On Sunday, September 29th, I took part in a Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia walk against childhood cancer. This was meaningful to me because when I was younger, I was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor.

I was only a few years old at the time. Things seemed to be normal for a while, the symptoms a slow burn. Headaches were the first sign that something was wrong, but as everyone has them, it became increasingly hard to tell if they were a mere pain or something much more serious.

The latter turned out to be true, and soon enough, I was taken to CHOP. Things quickly became a blur from there. My life became a jumbled mess of doctor’s appointments and conversations with professionals, something I hadn’t really experienced before that point. In what seemed like a matter of minutes, cancer had taken over my life.

Although I don’t remember a large portion of the surgery and recovery itself, one particular moment will always stick with me. It was during the recovery process, where I was slowly but surely learning how to walk again. To make things a little easier on me, a nurse had graciously provided me with one of those little toy cars for me to ride around in as opposed to walking down long hallways.

Without knowing it, this simple form of therapy was helping me. My legs were moving the car along, their plastic wheels skating me around on the hospital tiles. However, when I finally stood up and tried to move my legs, something changed.

It was almost as if I could feel the universe pulling me down.

I had never understood the feeling of gravity hindering me until that very moment. Moving each leg became a battle, one that took weeks to overcome. Now, I’m not sure why I remember this instance in time, but I’ve been able to take something from it nonetheless.

Although I was able to beat cancer and recover fully, many people feel that same weight pulling them down every single day, physically and mentally. Cancer is a daunting journey, one that impacts both the victim and the people around them for a lifetime to come. Although we aren’t all scientists working in a lab to find the cure, every single person can do something to help the cause.

Back to my original introduction: my walk for CHOP was a step towards finding a cure, towards raising awareness for those who have been affected by this sickness. It’s utterly terrifying to go through, take it from me, but it’s important to show those impacted that they aren’t alone. Together, we can work towards a brighter future for those that have experienced cancer. We can do it.