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Lowell High School, Lowell, Massachusetts

My dad is my role model, he is the most brave, strong, kind, funny, person I’ve ever met in my life. He was an engineer, a photographer, a rock climber, a hunter, a hard worker and the best dad in the whole world. He was a superhero and a warrior. He had the most contagious laugh and a sweet loving smile. His hugs were warm and safe. We were very close; we used to watch movies together, go to my dad’s photo- shoots and play around. We listened to the same music and we loved to take walks in the woods. My dad taught me how to shoot with a bow and arrow. But when I was in kindergarten, back in Guadalajara, Mexico, he was diagnosed with cancer.

My dad had lymphoma, but that didn’t stop him. He was always positive and he was never in bed. He was active, he continued to go hunting and rock climbing, and he used to take us on trips some weekends. We went to the parks to play in the playground and go biking. We used to eat menudo (a traditional Mexican soup) for breakfast on Saturdays. We went to my aunt’s house outside the city or camping in the woods, or out of the city to visit our family. Once a year, we would go to the beach at Puerto Vallarta for a week. We swam all day long in the blue sea and played on the warm sand.

Three years ago, my dad was promoted at his job and he moved to Massachusetts, but my mom, my sister and I stayed in Mexico. I was fifteen when my dad came back, after only six months, and told us that he wanted us to move to the U.S. because his cancer had come back again stronger. So we did.

I’m never going to forget the day I came here to Massachusetts. It was very early in the morning and my uncle drove us to the airport. I was so nervous because it was the first time in a long time that I had taken a plane. Looking out of the airplane window I said goodbye to my beautiful country. I wondered if this new life would be good. But mostly I just wanted to see my dad and make sure that he recovered and got healthy.

Coming to the United States was a mixture of emotions. We were very, very scared and sad because we had left our family, our friends and our home. We had nobody except each other to help us and it was the first time we were all alone - just the four of us. I still remember when my mom, my sister and I landed in Boston and we hurried to go see my dad and hug him. He was waiting for us with a big welcome poster.

Even though we were homesick, my family and I spent beautiful moments with my dad here. We visited a lot of places in Boston, ate ice cream, and went to the beach.

My dad started treatment again. But when we thought he became clean, the cancer came back again. We were desperate, we only wanted to see my dad healthy. That was until last August. He had a lot of complications and the doctors told us there was nothing more to do.

I promised my father that I will fight to keep going like he did. He fought against cancer for over fourteen years. He fought for us. He taught me not to give up and to fight for what I want. So every time I feel terribly depressed or when I feel that I cannot get out of my bed I think of him. I think of how strong he was. And I know he, my guardian angel, is taking care of me and my family from heaven.

© Paulina. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.


  • Family
  • Health and Illness
  • Migration
  • Loneliness, Doubt or Loss