30 DAYS/30 STORIES® 2021
Gregory’s Story – “The Bell”
When I was nine years old, I really had no idea what awaited me that year. If you asked my parents or teacher, you would learn that I was a fast learner who did his best to get a good education. At the time, though I was young, this was the only thing on my mind. I wanted to do well in school, and I wanted to inspire those around me. Before I became sick, the only relation that I had with cancer was that my grandmother had been diagnosed. Being only nine, I didn’t much understand the sickness and its effects, but I did know that it was dangerous and sometimes deadly. It made my parents sad to hear that my Nana was sick with cancer, and it felt like I could do nothing to make them feel better. Nevertheless, it was only 2 months after my birthday that I was diagnosed with brain cancer. At first, it was determined that I simply had a migraine, but symptoms rapidly became much more serious. Instead of just being light-headed and sick in the stomach, in a matter of two weeks, I basically lost consciousness altogether.
Soon after, my parents, mainly my mother, pushed for a CT scan. From the results of the scan, the doctor was able to identify a mass in the center of my head. They took a biopsy to determine whether the mass was cancerous or not, and the results came back positive. I vaguely remember that moment, for I wasn’t in the best state of consciousness at the time. But I do remember seeing the same look in my parents’ eyes…the same look they had when they heard about my grandmother. I remember very little after that point. After that, I was taken into surgery to ensure that I would survive to get chemotherapy. From what my parents have told me, I was going to start chemotherapy, but before I could recover from my last surgery, things just went downhill. I began to be nonresponsive, and when my doctor simply dismissed it to exhaustion, my mother asked for a second opinion. As it turned out, the tumor in my head had grown from the size of a golf ball to an apple. I was immediately life-flighted to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. There I went under a debulking surgery. I had to go into rehab for quite some time. When I finally completely gained complete consciousness, my family had a lot of explaining to do. After I recovered from my debulking surgery, I received six rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. At the end of it all, I was finally allowed to do something that I had been looking forward to doing throughout treatment; I was going to ring the bell. As I’m sure that you all know, at the end of treatment, each patient would ring a small bell to symbolize the end of their treatment. When ringing the bell, the people sitting in the waiting room would clap and cheer. It was one of my favorite memories from the experience.
Through this experience in my life, I look back and realize how big an impact that PCFLV has had on my life. Each event not only gave me a chance to have fun but also introduced me to many kind people with whom I could empathize. They knew what I was going through, and PCFLV helped me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. PCFLV was a great comfort through my treatment, and I will never forget what you all have done for me.
I have been clear for four and a half years. In a few short months, I will go for my last scans, and if I am clear, I will finally be considered, “cancer-free”. As I anxiously await that day, I can’t help but look back at how far I have come. I would like to thank all of those who helped me through this experience. I have met so many people that I will remember for the rest of my life.
Written by Gregory, age 14
Please consider donating in Gregory’s honor to support PCFLV's mission.
Please also consider helping local kids with cancer by donating blood at Miller-Keystone Blood Center:
Photography by Matthew Cannon