I Believe in Friends and Family

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I believe that love and support from family and friends is much more than a cliché.

A year and a half ago, my life changed forever. Just after the start of another spring semester at Penn State, I was diagnosed with Nodular Lymphocyte Predominant Hodgkin's Lymphoma. In simpler terms, a treatable form of cancer that only affects 400 Americans each year.

I felt scared. I felt alone.

But similar to my disease, I found out that this loneliness would only be temporary.

The next day, I moved back home for the semester and began more medical tests. I had a CAT-Scan, full body PET-scan and blood drawn nearly every day. That was the beginning of my road to recovery.

The worst was a dreaded bone-marrow biopsy, a procedure where an oncologist dug a long needle into my lower back for what seemed like an eternity. Despite the pain, the physical toll on my body was miniscule in comparison to the emotional toll.

I can’t put into words what the following week meant to me, but I will try. I received phone calls, text messages, Tweets and Facebook posts. Some from close friends and family, some from people I hadn't spoke to in months or years. Every one made the process easier.

I expected this support from people once they found out about my illness, but that didn’t keep it from being significant.

Readjusting to life at home was difficult. Not being able to work or go to school because of an awkward treatment schedule at the University of Pennsylvania was frustrating but I knew the most important thing was getting healthy.

Throughout all this there was never a dull moment. I had always been close with my large extended family but those four months brought us even closer. My parents, sister, cousins, grandmother, aunts and uncles became some of my best friends. Whether I was invited over for dinner, a few beers or just to hang-out, I was always distracted from the negative and focused on the positive.

Friends from school would check in on me daily. Friends at home opened their doors to me. I made new friends through my friends that attended local universities like Temple and Penn State Abington.

Friends and family came with me to radiation sessions and doctor’s appointments so frequently that the medical staff knew some of them by name. Every day brought me closer to health. Every night was a celebration of that.

Time started to fly. That May I finished treatment. Friends and family were there for my last day of radiation. They watched me ring the bell that every patient rings when they finish treatment at the Cancer center.

Those days made me who I am and also made me realize how lucky I am for my friends and family. With graduation approaching, I’m still a little scared of what the future holds, but I know I will never be alone, no matter what. I believe in the support of my friends and family.

- David Callanan


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