Cancer? Look on the Bright Side…

Robert Moncrieff AllanThe following is adapted from a speech Robert Allen gave as part of the Grade 11 public speaking competition. He also presented it at the Canadian University Women’s Club annual competition at Bishop’s University.

2013 was a pretty exciting year for most of us; I mean there was a meteor in Russia, that’s pretty exciting. There’s a new Pope, that’s cool. On more serious notes, things like the European Union bailing out Cyprus, and Snowden leaking some pretty important files to a “big-mouth” sort of made 2013 a year to remember for most.

For me, it was definitely a year to remember. It was the year I was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer that is one-in-a-million.

Now some may say that’s horrible, and, yes, it is probably not the number one wish by people, but I think I had some positive outcome. I mean, you could think about it like this: if 1 out of 3 people are personally affected by cancer I took the bullet for two of you.

Here’s my story: I like football, football is fun – well, when you’re not getting hit. But football saved my life, literally. Go football! I was playing a school named Franco Cité last year when I was put in as a fullback on a play to protect the quarterback. It wasn’t my best moment. Ball is snapped, I blocked someone, and another amazing person hit me from the side where there is no equipment. I can’t believe he knew before anyone else where I had cancer, I really should thank him. Anyway, on that play my chest really hurt and I was rested for most of the day due to my chest pains. Later that night, having no idea what was going on, I was picked up by the nurse and she called an ambulance. How many of you have ridden in an ambulance? Probably not that many, but I’ll tell you one thing, it was pretty cool. It was like being in a NASCAR in Quebec. In the end of that visit we learned that the courageous man from Franco Cité had cracked two of my ribs! I say again that man is some sort of deity.

Fast forward weeks during Thanksgiving when the actual diagnosis took place. It was a pretty depressing day but at least I got to excuse everything I did with “Hey, but I have cancer!” Didn’t take out the trash? Wasn’t my fault. I had cancer.

In all seriousness my father and I took a jokingly positive view on the whole ordeal. He used to crack jokes like, “Wow I can’t believe you lost your hair before I did!” or “Now I can save money on shampoo!” I love my Dad. He never treated me differently throughout all of it and I thank him for that. He pushed me to finish Grade 10 like no one else would, while finding some enjoyment in my pain. This is my best example of a situation where you are thinking only of the negatives, when nothing is going your way. Well, if that’s true, that doesn’t mean you have to act like it’s true. People in society today focus on the negatives and are never pro-active towards their own views. Well, I’ll tell you something: nothing’s going to get better unless you do something about it. My diagnosis could only fix itself with time and it wasn’t going to get more enjoyable by just lying in bed thinking about it.

Even though this is pretty small it can be related to almost anything. Yes, there were a lot of downsides to the experience, and I’m pretty sure the worst ones were not being able to fit on the hospital beds in a children’s hospital, or the volunteers who would come in at 8 a.m. and sing “Kumbaya.” They had the right intention of course, but I’m ungrateful.

I can look back upon what happened to me as a character-building experience and hopefully you’re able to pick something similar in your life and say the same. There’s the saying “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” which is completely true in my mind. Look at me now: my ribs are bionic.

“Life is a bowl of cherries. Some cherries are rotten while others are good; it’s your job to throw out the rotten ones and forget about them while you enjoy eating the ones that are good! There are two kinds of people: those who choose to throw out the good cherries and wallow in all the rotten ones, and those who choose to throw out all the rotten ones and savor all the good ones.” – C. Joybell C.

In life you choose what to acknowledge and how to acknowledge it, and hopefully by how I’ve shown you the positivity I can convey from it, you are able to do the same.

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