This month is my hero’s junior prom. That’s right, my real life superhero is a junior in high school and just turned 17. He is an accomplished student at Mid Pacific Institute, a member of the National Honor Society, a consistent President’s List member each semester, a young online entrepreneur who can already set up his own servers and sites, a dancer, and a paintball fanatic. He has done medical mission work abroad where he served as a circulating nurse in an ophthalmic O.R. And in a month he will have completed all requirements to be named an Eagle Scout. In just a short year, he will be off to college, where he is interested in studying to be either an astrophysicist or a pediatric oncologist. I am proud of the incredibly strong, kind, loyal, open, honest, genuine man he has become, even without a father around.
Not only does he make me laugh with his innovative songs, tag lines and dances on the daily, but he is the best listener, supporter and friend you could ever ask for. He is the first person to stand up for anyone deemed “different,” the first to give assistance to the new kid on the team, and the first to offer a comforting hug, because he can always tell when you need it. Even more than that, despite anything going on in his life, he is always positive. My little brother Nicolas may be a teenager but he is the best man I know. I just saw a show that discussed what a man really is and the conclusion is that a boy becomes a man when he accepts others for who they are, makes the best of situations and inspires others. Why is he such an inspiration?
When our Nic was just 4 years old, he was rushed into urgent care. The incredible doctors removed his cancerous tumor from his adrenal gland after hours of surgery. He was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer in the nerve cells of the sympathetic peripheral nervous system, which affects 700 children in the U.S. each year (cancer.org). After years of doctors visits, my mother and I are more grateful than words can describe. He is a Survivor!
We took Nic to his first Relay For Life event when he was 8 years old. We were captured at the Leeward O’ahu Relay by the bounce houses where a little girl punched Nic in the face because she thought he was cute, the hilarious lip sync performances by each team in their Grease costumes, and the touching Luminaria ceremony. Nic laid in my lap as we listened to the guest speaker. I was overwhelmed. As my mother and I cried tears of joy, gratitude and humility holding our boy’s hand around our first lap of silence, I knew that Relay would become part of our lives. Our Momma still cries those same tears every time she does a Survivor Lap, proudly holding hands with her boy.
Since then our family has participated in Relays in both Washington and Hawai`i. Next year will be our 10th year of bleeding purple! It has been a passion of ours to help however we can so that no one else has to fear losing a sibling or child.
As a Relay fanatic, I am so proud to say that Nic has volunteered, spoken and read at multiple Relays. He has helped me do more prep work, set up, clean up, and booth-manning than I can count. In fact my whole family has rallied together to fight cancer and it is the most beautiful feeling in the world–to share the same passion and deepest experiences with the people you love most.
We still try to volunteer at every O`ahu event each year because the people we have met through ACS have become our family. The staff and volunteers and Survivors, have become our partners. We continue to work for them, for what they do, for who they are, and for the spirit they ensue in us with every reunion hug we get at each event.
I may be biased because Nic is my everything. We go through everything together and talk about anything and everything. He is my favorite person in the world and the one with whom I feel most comfortable. We have grown up together. Being 10 years older than him, I always thought I was helping to raise him, but really, he is the one who has taught me the most. We have been complimented on our visible love and strong sibling bond. We refuse to let cancer or anything else take that away from us! So we will keep fighting. As our favorite slogan goes: Cuck Fancer! 🙂
~Darrah KF, American Cancer Society Volunteer