Humans of Tam: I Didn’t Want Anyone to Treat Me Differently


Humans of Tam features anonymous students and snippets of their voices and experiences.

My doctor was like eh, if you want to. But my mom would never [pass up the X-ray]. She is one of those really cautious people. When the doctor told me, oh it’s probably just swollen, I thought, ‘oh okay, then it’s nothing.’ I really should, I really should thank her for that. I’ll thank her when I get home.

I was diagnosed [with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma] on Halloween. It sucked because I was in the hospital for most of the night. I didn’t get to go trick-or-treating, but I got to go to a friends house later and they all gave me candy, so it all worked out.

Back in the hospital, I went to the bathroom and I just… I cried. It could have been something worse though, which would have been…worse.

The cancer extended to both halves of my chest. It started here [points beneath left collar bone] and ran down and went a little bit over to the other side of my chest, which is not the worst. Unlike 4B [a later occurring phase in cancer], which would be all over the body. That is really bad. Especially because I was young, the medical stuff could work better.

[The doctors] were pretty hopeful. I was part of an experiment. The ABDV. Well, of course it was an experiment, they don’t have an actual cure yet. So basically all cancer patients are experiments.

The treatments are… horrible. And, in the beginning, I only told my best friends. I told them not to tell anyone else. I didn’t want anyone to treat me differently. That is mostly why I didn’t tell anyone. I even told my friends that I didn’t want them to treat me any differently. I said, ‘I don’t want you to give me special attention just because I’m going through this.’ It’s why I didn’t tell other people, because they feel like they have the obligation to treat me like I’m some special case. It was hard though. A lot of people were asking, ‘Why are you absent all the time? What are those scars on your neck? Why do you have bandages there?’ I would say I’d been sick.

I just really wanted to get over it. I would be gone every other week, so it was really hard school-wise because I had to keep up with all the school stuff. Luckily, my teachers were very helpful with all that.

I don’t like the whole guppy uppy, cheesy stuff like that. My friends, they treated me the same, and I loved that. It’s all I needed from them.

[My parents] didn’t give up by saying you can do whatever you want now, or we’ll give you shopping sprees, or we’ll spend all this money on you… just because… That would be their sign of giving up, saying, you know, this is it, go ahead and do whatever you want now.

It was really fast. The doctors said I was really lucky. I was cancer-free in six months. Thank god.

[My advice is] just be positive. I mean, this is going to sound really cheesy, but they say if you give up, you feel like you want to give up, your body will too. Staying positive with it all helps your body heal. So, I felt like that was something that really helped me through it.

Also, never-not ask for help. If you think you can just take it all by yourself, you’re probably wrong. It’s a lot of work, you do need help, and that’s fine, it’s not like you’re succeeding if you don’t ask for help.