This is a powerful story about a very difficult time in this student's life.  Not every essay is going to be on something so powerful.  This student was a public school student.

ESSAY 2: BEFORE

I’ll never forget that day on the couch when my mom told me that she wanted to talk. I thought she wanted me to join the musical at my high school.  Instead she told me she had cancer.  I didn’t know what to think.  Cancer kills people.  Was my mom dying?  My mom told me that she had stage 3 cancer but that her doctors thought she was going to okay.  What she wanted for me, most of all, was to keep going.  To go to school to doing Destination Imagination.  She loved me very much she told me.

She began chemo soon afterwards.  Her hair began to fall out, and she was often sick.  I’ll never forget the sound or smell of vomit.  And the endless trips to the doctor.  I only went with her once.  But I’ll never forget sitting with her chemo drip there and the other people in the room.  Some old, some younger all sick.  All dying.

My father went with my mom all  the time, but it took a toll.  My dad used to be a workaholic but he spent a lot of time with my mom.  But he had trouble dealing with everything.  My dad used to be pretty mellow but he would often explode at me and my little sister.  

I always tried to be positive with my mom.  I brought her favorite magazines and smiled.  I even cooked sometimes.  But it was still tough.  My little sister would cry all the time.  I needed to be strong for her, and I tried.  I always was upbeat with her, but often cried at night alone in my room.  My mom was everything to me.  She’s the one who used to tucked me in at night.  She’s the one who would pack my lunch and leave little notes, like I love you. 

It was so hard at school.  I didn’t really care too much any more about whether Jordan liked me, or my soccer team made it to the state playoffs.  I was consumed by my mom’s cancer.  It was tough.  My grandmother also started to come around, but that was stressful too.  Since she and my dad often fought.

Almost a year later my mom was cancer free. It was so happy.  I learned so much about myself.  I don’t know how I kept going in those days.  My little sister, me sad but faking it.  It gave me a chance to know myself, and know that I can survive.  I am tough.  I am strong.  I am a survivor.

ESSAY 2: AFTER

“We need to talk,” my mom announced.  “Sit down.”

 Crap, I thought. What did I do?  Maybe she just wanted me to join the school musical.

“Alex, I have cancer… I … have breast cancer.” 

I sat there dumbstruck. Cancer kills people.  Was my mom going to die?  My mom continued that she had stage 3 cancer, but that her doctors thought she was going to be okay.  She told me that she loved me so much, and what was coming next would be tough.  But what she wanted most from me, above all, was to keep going.  Keep going to Destination Imagine. Keep going to lacrosse. Keep writing for our school newspaper.

The chemo began soon afterwards.  I started to see her beloved brown hair everywhere; soon she was essentially bald. She was often sick.  I’ll never forget the sound of her vomiting, or the endless trips to the doctor.  I only went with her once, when my Dad had to travel for work.  But I’ll never forget sitting with her there on a chemo drip, and the other people in the room.  Some were old, some younger. All sick.  All dying.

My mom’s illness took a toll on us all.  My dad used to be a workaholic; he started to spend a lot of time at home with Mom. But he had trouble dealing with everything: he used to be pretty mellow, and now suddenly he would often explode at my sister and me. 

I also struggled.  But I just took my mom’s words to heart.  I kept going.  I was always busy.  I always found something that needed to be done.  I brought her favorite magazines and smiled a lot.  I even cooked sometimes.  Still, it was tough.  I often cried alone in my room at night.  My mom was everything to me.  She’s the one who used to tuck me in at night.  She’s the one who would pack my lunch and leave little notes, like “I love you.”

School was hard too.  I didn’t really care too much any more about whether Jordan liked me, or my soccer team made it to the state playoffs.  My sick mom was the only thing that mattered to me.  But I kept on with Destination Imagination and all the other activities.  I was determined to follow my mom’s advice. 

Almost a year later, the doctors declared my mom cancer free. It was the happiest day of my life.  I learned so much about myself.  I don’t know how I kept going in those days.  In retrospect, I probably should have seen someone or found someone to talk about my feelings. My mom’s cancer forced me to confront myself.  I learned that I am strong.  I am resilient.  I am a survivor.