I’m a sixteen year old—possibly the luckiest teenage boy on earth, but a sixteen year old no less; and I have a story. Am I too young to have a ‘story’? I don’t know really, but I should warn you, many find it sad. Hauntingly sad.
I was a freckled child when it happened. I woke up to a blinding pain and my parents bursting into my room. The light that filled the room when they did made the pinpricks of pain morph into hammerblows. I continued the screaming that had brought my parents, and I was told that I didn’t stop until I was brought to the hospital and sedated. Heavily. It turns out I had one of those ‘oma’ things; mine had a ‘blast’ in its name, and sounded like death. I got the distinct impression I wasn’t supposed to know though, because the doctor took my parents outside to discuss my ‘condition’. My parents would tell me later with an openness I was grateful for. If I was dying, I wanted to know why.
Had I not mentioned beforehand that I was dying, in a less-offhanded way than I just did? Oh, my bad. You see, as soon the doctor realised my parents kept nothing from me, he spoke freely in front of me. When he spoke the word describing what I had, I remember thinking, “Now that’s how it should be said”. It came out so smooth and…velvety. He only said it a handful of times though: he, and everyone else, referred to it as ‘the tumour’ most of the time. It was apparently a really bad one that would continue growing until it stopped my heart. The drugs would only slow it down, and surgery was not a viable option—it was precariously close to my brainstem. I was given nine months to live. I was only eleven and I’d be dead before I turned twelve. Huh.
Mum and Dad cried a lot; well, Mum more than Dad. They were there every day and every night in my hospital room, smiling by day and sobbing by night when they thought I couldn’t hear them. But it’s been five years now and the deadline I was given to die had long passed. The tumour is still there of course, and the only explanation the doctor could give, if we can call it that, was “It could happen anytime now”.
So everyday is a near-death experience. I wake up and do my checks. Sight, check. Hearing, check. Sitting, check. Standing, check… By the third check, I’m pretty sure I’m still alive. I smile and wait for my parents to slowly open the door, anxious to see that I made it through the night and scared stiff that maybe I didn’t.