Humans of Tam: My Brother Had to Come Home


By Kennedy Cook and Michael Diamandakis


My brother had to come home. The doctors didn’t really know what was going on because he was having a lot of headaches and was having seizures, they didn’t know what was happening, they thought it was something to do with his teeth. They thought taking out the wisdom teeth would make it better. A month later he passed out and had to go to the hospital. All the doctors thought nothing was wrong. Pretty much through the whole process they insisted nothing was wrong until my mom had to step in and ask for a cat scan. I was 12. I didn’t really know a whole lot about what cancer was, so I wasn’t really worrying about it that much, I thought he was going to be fine.

My brother had stage 4 brain cancer. He had ATRT. It was an extremely rare case. He was 1 in like 30 people ever to have this cancer as an adult. They don’t know what to do for that type of cancer. Sure, they have treatment options. They have chemo and radiation, that’s all they really do. That’s all they know how to do. So that’s what we did. The treatment was very expensive. It was a 5 month process with bills and bills and bills. He was in a lot of pain. The doctors didn’t know what to do. At that point I knew something was going to happen. I didn’t really know what, but I knew something bad. Then, he passed away. I was in shock. I didn’t really know what to do. . He passed away a little over 3 years ago. He was 19. He’d just moved out to L.A. for school, he was there for a few months when all that happened.  

He had a short life, but he he got to do a lot of things in his life that not everyone gets to do. He truly enjoyed every single moment he had. I was never a good student before he got sick. But after he got sick I realized I had to get better grades, and I tried a lot harder after he passed away. I just know that college is very expensive and I don’t want my parents paying for college for me. I want to do the best I could by myself to help them out. I don’t want my parents paying anything for college so I want to expand on what I’m good at. I want to expand on math and my sport, tennis. I took online classes for math over summers. I took algebra 1 and 2 online. Now I’m in Pre-Calc and it’s really hard, but I’m trying to do the best I can.

I had to wake up, start working, go to tennis, when I got home I would keep working on math until like 2 in the morning, then go back to sleep, and repeat the process again all summer. I enjoy it a lot. Maybe not the school, but I enjoy the tennis. Tennis is pretty much my down time. It’s where I enjoy myself. I want to play for a college team, so I’m playing in tournaments for the USTA (United States Tennis Association). I play tournaments for that league competitively and tournaments give you a ranking and colleges look at that. They want you if you have a good ranking.

I’m so stressed because the workload is huge compared to what it was last year. I want to enjoy every moment I have, but I do have to think about what I am doing because you don’t want to do something stupid just because you think it’s fun. I would not be as driven if it wasn’t for Steven.

I feel like him passing away made me realize what I have to do in order to succeed in life.