Eleanor Lynch ’19
My sister Eleanor doesn’t want people to be afraid of her. “It's not like I’m some monster. It’s not like, ‘Oh no, she's a sick girl. You can't talk to her. You can't touch her. She's going to break.’ It's not true. I mean I'm human. I'm just like you. So don't be scared of me.”
It’s okay to talk to someone who is going through something, even if it doesn’t feel comfortable. “I've definitely had a lot of weird conversations with people, awkward conversations, where I don't feel awkward, but they feel awkward because they don't know what to say. They don’t know the right thing to say is, and a lot of times they don't say the right thing. It’s fine. Everyone's human.” Don’t be afraid to screw up. Being normal with them is the most important thing that you can do for someone enduring a hardship.
In May of 2017, Eleanor woke up one morning with a small fever and some pain in her knee. She assumed they were unrelated, as she had a soccer game the previous day and thought she had strained it. As days passed, these seemingly unconnected symptoms grew much worse. Soon it was clear that a trip to the ER was necessary.
To Eleanor, the next day was a blur. She was told she had leukemia and was put on chemotherapy within 24 hours of diagnosis. All of her previous knowledge of cancer was from movies and television, and she couldn’t really comprehend the fact that it happens to people in real life. Telling her friends was difficult as well, because it was tough to find the words to explain what happened.
While treatment now is arduous, it is nothing compared to what she experienced every day one year ago. Thankfully, her type of leukemia is readily treatable, though it has been a painstaking process. Since she was not getting exercise, she had to stop eating almost entirely to combat rapid weight gain.
In January, she got a stomach bug. Normally, this would not be a huge deal, as it tends to come and go with relative speed. For Eleanor, this was not the case. Chemotherapy kills off many cells in your body, including those of the immune system. Any sickness requires hospitalization for her, sometimes for as long as a month. Thankfully, she has been relatively healthy other than a cold or two.
Despite this hardship, Eleanor is still on course to graduate high school on time. In fact, at the time of writing this, she just submitted her first college application. She has come to envy her friends who get to go to school every day, and has learned to not take things like that, nor her friends and family, nor any normal day, for granted.
According to Eleanor, the best way to help someone who is going through a difficult time is “just listening to them. Listen to the person. Let them kind of talk out their feelings. Say what they need to say. Because I'm telling you, that’s what they need.”