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Photo ofDelila Zvivdic

May twelfth, twenty-eighteen was the day my life changed. Everything was perfectly normal until I received the news from my parents. My mother had been diagnosed with cancer and all I could think of  were the negatives. I felt mute, as if no matter how hard I tried, not a word could come out of my mouth.  After that, every day until my mother’s surgery felt like years. I would have to drag myself to do simple tasks such as getting out of bed to brush my teeth. This hit me hard because my mom has been my rock since day one. She’s been there for me through my best and worst of times.  Everyone in my family wore their emotions on their sleeves, especially me. When we found out the news we were all tense with shaking nerves because we knew there wasn’t anything we could do. As my mom was about to have surgery, my whole family nervously waited outside for what felt like centuries. Once the surgery was over, the doctors had called my dad and announced, “Everything went great.” I felt relieved, as if a million pounds had just been lifted off my shoulders. Later that night, my mom knew something wasn’t right. I saw her expression and I knew something was wrong. My stomach started to hurt and I held back my tears in fear that my mother was not going to be okay. She went back to the doctor the next day and we found out he had made one of the simplest mistakes. He had forgotten to check the sizes of the lymph nodes. This made every muscle in my body tighten out of anger. How could someone mess up something with my mother’s health on the line? I remember the intense minute where my mom sat my family and I down to tell us that she would have to go in for another surgery. Hearing that made me even more aggravated. I was devastated seeing my mother in so much pain, knowing that she would have to face more of it.  The hatred I held inside my body towards the doctor was at its highest point, raging so much that I didn’t know how I would manage to keep my emotions inside of me. Every night I would ask myself, How does someone miss something that big? Was he even paying attention? Did the doctor care that this would affect a whole family? Asking myself these questions and not getting an answer made my emotions fly. Since I knew I couldn’t go back in time to change this mistake, I began to believe there was a reason for it. God has a plan for everyone. Thinking this gave me less hatred towards the doctor who caused this stress and trauma. Reminding myself that everyone makes mistakes and that no one is perfect helped too. Preparing for the second surgery was less of a concern compared to the first one as we thought this was going to be an easy ride because he just had to check for one thing instead of multiple.  This wasn’t the end of her cancer-fighting journey. Later that week, we found out that she would have to have chemo. Hair loss. Weakness in the body. No energy. Throwing up. No appetite. This was the struggle she went through day after day. She had to have chemo once every two weeks from August to late November, and radiation afterwards for two months. Although these procedures drained her physically, they did not change who my mother was as a person. She was still lovable, kind, funny, and so much more. Two surgeries. Eight rounds of chemo. Two months of radiation. A year later, my mom is cancer free. Although this bump in our lives is over for the most part, it doesn’t take away the pain we all felt. Through this journey I have learned to take things day by day and to stop worrying so much about the past or the future. This experience has taught me people don’t get to choose the challenges they face, but they do get to choose how they fight. Despite the fact that it wasn’t our choice of what had happened to us, we chose to look at the bright side of things. My family learned perspective is a choice, and we now choose to live in the moment. 

© Delila Zvivdic. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.