Personal reflection on a "journey" in your life and its impact.

Essay by vivHigh School, 12th grade November 2004

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The first time I saw Olivia's mother after I was told "the news," I was shocked and surprised. Somehow the mental image I had built up of her was a frail and sickly invalid extracted from the real world to be confined to bed, a lone solider in combat with the arch enemy that threatened her life. I was not prepared to see a cancer sufferer diagnosed with seven months to live clad in a tiny bikini, actively participating in a cannon-bombing competition with 10-year-old boys. My initial astonishment was quickly replaced by guilt; why was I expecting the worst? What kind of person am I for not feeling happy for someone who was obviously doing so much better than expected?

From that moment on I told myself to forget about her illness, pretend I was never told about "the news," perhaps it was grossly exaggerated to scare me anyway.

For a long time that seemed to be true, whenever I saw Olivia's mum at family friends gatherings she seemed more radiant than ever. Indeed the gossip around the family friend grapevine was how she barely felt her illness at all, even whispered possibilities of a misdiagnosis. Seven months came as a major milestone where they held a huge party to commemorate the occasion. In fact she even gave a speech about her victory over her illness; she laughed at the doctors predictions over how she wouldn't make it through Christmas. At the time I was full of hope and optimism; if Olivia's mum could beat cancer so easily, anything was possible, all you needed was to have the determination.

During the Easter holidays last year was the first time when I began to doubt. Uncle Alex informed us that she quit her work to rest at home,