Teen Rebellion Vs. Parent with Cancer

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Six years ago, my mother came into our yellow-painted kitchen and informed me she had cancer, again. This time it was thyroid cancer. If you have ever been bombarded with unexpected and unfortunate news, you’ll recognize this feeling. At 16 years old and having just my mom as my caretaker, I selfishly thought about myself and how I would survive alone. Who will feed me? Who will pay the bills? Who will help me apply for scholarships?

As time progressed and my mother weakened, my older sister in college didn’t have time to be there, so it was up to me to make sure she took her many pills, ate correctly and secure happiness, for both of us.

I wish I could have done more than partake in typical rebellious teenager acts. Instead of talking back, I wish I talked only sweet things to her. Instead of shutting her out, I wish I invited her to the movies and to school functions. However, when the cancer dissipated, joy seemed to fill our home again, which overcame the dry and bitter in the air.

Presently a senior in college, when I had the opportunity to help other cancer patients, I was overjoyed with gratitude. The CareBOX Program is a unique and hidden gem in the capital of Texas. I’ve never heard of anything like it and the staff behind this program are remarkable, driven human beings. These ladies help me become a better and stronger person every day. The compassion in their eyes fuels this program.

Cancer affects everyone and everyone has a story to share. Now you know mine.

This post is not only for my independent mother Lola, but also for my kind grandfather El who passed away in 2012 from bone cancer.

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from writer Ralph Waldo Emerson. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Whatever happened in our past and whatever will happen in our future, these moments define who we are. Embrace it.

-Jasmine, CareBOX Program Marketing and Design Intern

 

Improving Cancer Care: One Box At a Time

There are many things that inspired my decision to intern with CareBOX Program. My biggest inspiration began on February 7, 2015. I remember receiving a phone call that shook the very core of my being. I sat in silence trying to process the words of my boyfriend’s step-brother saying, “I went to the doctor, and found out that I have Stage IV Colon Cancer.” I was speechless. It was the underlying Big C, the very word that has the ability to change lives in an instantaneous moment leaving a person searching for a meaning. The same word that makes you question your faith, lifestyle, future, past, and everything in-between. His diagnosis taught me that we are capable of displaying strength, growth, lessons learned, and so much more by simply allowing ourselves to be vulnerable with others.

As I fast-forward a few months, I stumbled across CareBOX Program while searching for internships and instantly fell in love with everything they stood for. My heart jumped for joy when Diana called me for an interview: I knew this is the kind of impact that I longed for. The CareBOX Program allows me to live out of a life mission of being a positive light, encouraging the faint-hearted, loving the rejected, and being passionately driven by being a change in this world. CareBOX Program encompasses every aspect by serving individuals across all demographics, genders, ages, etc.

In the past month of interning, I have realized that life can be fragile and completely unexpected. However, there are still beautiful people in the world that are willing to help in these situations. In the midst of the chaos and confusion there are people, like those involved with the CareBOX Program, that strive to meet the needs of vulnerable people one box at a time. As we continue to grow on a daily basis, the CareBOX Program displays how the idea of a college student has the ability to impact an entire city. Interning with CareBOX Program means more than simply checking off requirements for college completion, instead it gives one the ability to look outside themselves. The power to positively impact lives starts with you, so how will you make a difference in somebody’s life today?

-Dana, CareBOX Program Intern

A Meaningful Connection

On Saturday I had the honor of delivering supplies to my first ColorCancer patient—93-year-old Wellington, whose supply list was fulfilled by some of my very best friends. I don’t know that I could have had a better first delivery experience. Upon walking into their house, the walls were masked by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, spanning from politics to astrophysics to world history, travel trinkets and tapestries from the Middle East, and their TV showing BBC’s coverage of the Paris attacks. His wife, Dorothy, had bright blue eyes and was a former journalist and writer, once working for the sister of John Steinbeck’s second wife. Dorothy said she preferred BBC, as it’s not “bias” like other outlets. Wellington was an engineering professor, and together they lived all over the world, even though, as Dorothy said, “Professors never have money—but the work covers the travels.” His walls of books were the collections of all his years spent in academia, across all coordinates imaginable. They were still in love.

They told me stories of living in Taiwan and Thailand, Iraq and Lebanon, and eventually spent several years working as part of a physics program in Mexico. They loved living in the world, which they agreed is never as the media portrays—the locals being warm and friendly most places they went, including in the Middle East. They told me stories of their roadtrips through New England, once finding a “curmudgeon” with books for sale in a barn on the side of a two-lane. They stopped to take a gander and a grumpy old man said, “I’m not open.” And they said, “That’s OK,” and proceeded to help themselves to his collections. [He ended up making a pretty penny despite his attempt to ward the two off.]

Dorothy went on to share their experiences with poor veteran care in the United States, particularly in the country, telling the sad story of Wellington’s father dying alone in rural South Central Texas with little assistance or programs to help with his needs, despite being a well-respected WWII vet. That loneliness, they both agreed, was the saddest part of dying in America. They said the best part of the at-home delivery was the “conversation that came with it.”

I left their house with an overwhelming set of emotions, stemming from the synchronicity in meeting another scholarly grandad, the sadness of what’s happening overseas, and the harsh reality of the elderly being left to fend for themselves with little care no matter how good a life they led.

ColorCancer is an incredible program, and if you’d like to get involved, they’re always seeking CareDONORs and CareDRIVERs to help fulfill their supply and delivery needs. You can find out more at: careboxprogram.org. [Thank you again for introducing me to the program, Melissa.]

WW Delivery with Logo

-Ashley Halligan, CareDONOR and CareDRIVER