SIMON SAYS: The fault in my stars

by Simon Sun

Redditors who have had cancer, what were your first symptoms and what ended up happening?

Junior Simon Sun was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 8. As a result of complications with the medications, he developed symmetrical brain damage, which rendered him with cerebral palsy-like symptoms. In Simon Says, he writes about surviving high school with a disability.

Junior Simon Sun was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 8. As a result of complications with the medications, he developed symmetrical brain damage, which rendered him with cerebral palsy-like symptoms. In Simon Says, he writes about surviving high school with a disability.

The question struck my eye as I was browsing the front page of the forum-esque website Reddit. It was the end of summer, the day still long enough that it was bright even at 9 o’clock at night. My Nook lay idly on my bed, the dreaded summer reading contained inside, half-annotated. My laptop’s malfunctioning fan whirred away on top of my desk, where I was now poised, hunched over the keyboard, eyebrows raised in curiosity.

My disappointing sophomore year of high school was still fresh in my mind. Everything seemed to have gone wrong. Not-up-to-par grades, arguments with my parents, a failed homecoming, and bad test scores were just the tip of the iceberg. Deeper, I had slowly noticed that year that I was slowly getting distanced from my peers. I felt alone. No one understood what I was going through. The frustration that came when my disability impeded what I wanted to do, the stress that came when I realized that the next couple years may decide my entire future, the annoyance that came when I literally wasn’t understood.

And so I sat there, curious. I had met plenty of people who have had cancer, but I never got to hear their stories. I had never told my story. It seemed that I didn’t even think about it when I clicked the topic.

I spent nearly half an hour reading through the posts. Many of them were adults, a few were teenagers. But although I couldn’t see their faces, I could still feel a connection to them. Many of their stories were similar to mine: bruises, paleness, got leukemia. It was as if here were all the humans that shared memories, had the same experiences. Here, everyone understood what the others were going through. Here, everyone was welcomed.

I wasn’t sure why I clicked the “add comment” button. I wasn’t sure why I spent ten minutes telling my story. I wasn’t sure why I hit “submit” without hesitation. But I did, and within seconds, there was a new reply.

“Hang in there bro. I know what that feels like, and trust me, it’ll get better.”

I don’t even remember the guy’s username. But what I do remember is that that night I felt like I belonged somewhere, that I wasn’t alone. All these thousands of commenters knew what I was going through. Since then, I had never truly felt alone. After all, “what ended up happening” was that I met a group that made me feel welcome.

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