When I was growing up, I was very close with my cousin Hannah. Our families lived only a few minutes apart and even though she was five years younger than me, we were like sisters. We’d bake cupcakes and jump on her trampoline. We’d wreak havoc on our living rooms with elaborate pillow forts,and I’d paint her stubby fingernails.
We still did these things after she was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor when she was nine years old. For a while, anyway.
But eventually things got harder. The trampoline was replaced with movies and board games. In time, cupcakes were swapped out for loads of medication. The first time I really registered that things were serious, we were having a makeshift Thanksgiving dinner in a meeting room at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Despite the horrible circumstances, the staff at Seattle Children’s made us feel welcome, even festive, as we tucked into our microwaved feast. It was the best we could do.
Seattle U students raised over $59,000 for the hospital’s Uncompensated Care Fund this weekend. Cancer is hard enough when your family is fortunate, as mine was. Staring down terminal childhood illness and
financial hardship? That’d be next to impossible.
Hannah fought cancer with her trademark courage and stubbornness, but lost her battle in 2010 after a recurrence. Hearing everyone excitedly discuss Dance Marathon reopens the wounds every year—after all, they never really go away. But I’m overwhelmingly proud of my fellow students’ commitment, compassion and drive.
Were Hannah still with us, she’d be 16 years old. She’d probably be looking at colleges. Perhaps she still is, in a way. And if she’s looking at Seattle U right now, I just know she has only good things to say.