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I'd like you to meet some of my friends. James is a college graduate, aspiring writer and mentor for Imerman Angels, Steven is a phenomenal photographer who is graduating with his bachelor’s degree this fall. Tom is a dedicated volunteer, CBTF brand ambassador and great friend. Rosalie is a passionate and creative artist and college student. Mark is an aspiring cinematographer who just started his first semester of college, Jeremiah is a talented artist who is currently looking to attend art school, and myself, Kayla, a college graduate who gives back by working for CBTF.
All of us are brain tumor survivors. The only reason I picked these names out of the hundreds of survivors we work with every day is because most recently, I was part of a project called Patient Voice which was a photo documentary project that is set to our narrations of various topics related to us and our diagnoses. This project was created in collaboration with Annie Levy of the Photo ID Foundation and through a grant from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, made with the intent to show to various medical institutions as a tool to teach doctors about the lives of brain tumor survivors outside of the hospital and to make them more sensitive and understanding of what we go through.
If I were to list the names of all of the survivors I know with their dreams and accomplishments, this blog would go on for pages and pages!
What made me start to think about all of this was that after the class’s viewing of the finished documentary, a woman by the name of Barbra Cervone ,who writes for an organization called “What Kid’s Can Do”, interviewed the class about the project. She asked each of us what we’re doing now. The above mentioned are the things that we told her. Day to day, I seldom think about the accomplishments as they relate to being a survivor, but being asked this question up front really made me realize how much these accomplishments mean and are worth.
When I asked her later, Rosalie told me that “I believe I have Super powers… (the show Smallvillle) reminds me of me and us sometimes, how it is really difficult to adjust to the new world after he was fallen out of the meteor shower. Don’t you guys just feel as if you were part of his life? How he was so young…It’s kind of like how society views on us in real life…”
I especially like Rosalie’s take because she recognizes that being superman doesn’t only involve super strength and x-ray vision; but also having to adjust to living in a world that wasn’t his own. He felt different from his peers. He struggled with knowing that if others found out about his secret, they might treat him differently. Being superman doesn’t just mean having super powers but it means doing the right thing with them, despite the many struggles being faced.
It can be difficult to find ways to achieve great things or to feel like you’re achieving great things when you feel so different from everyone around. Many times others don’t get why we struggle or understand the implications of certain long term effects.
It’s easy to get frustrated when those around seems to be moving at a different pace.
What all of this says to me, however, is that even though we often doubt ourselves, in reality we took our bad situations and turned them into dreams and goals, aspirations and achievements. Isn’t this the most powerful thing of all? After all, even Superman had to face his kryptonite in order to save the world.