He Doesn’t Take “No” for an Answer

He Doesn’t Take “No” for an Answer

From Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor's Soul

He Doesn’t Take “No” for an Answer

Live life more fully, love more unconditionally and trust in the goodness of life.

Susan B. Komen Newsletter, Houston,Texas

A child’s optimism should send a message to us all. My eleven-year-old’s response to my breast-cancer recurrence was more than I could ever have anticipated.

My children had only known me as a survivor because I had spent six and a half years in remission. I had always feared a relapse, and one of my great concerns was how my children would react and cope if the cancer returned, because now they were old enough to understand so much more.

In February 2001, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, with additional disease in my liver and bones. I began extensive chemotherapy treatments, and my physical condition worsened before it stabilized. Living with these changes were my husband and two sons.

A friend was walking in the Avon three-Day, sixty-Mile Breast Cancer Walk, and Andrew, my eleven-year-old, decided he would hold a fund-raising dance at the local recreation center for sixth-grade students and donate all the proceeds to the walk. He took command of the task and pulled all the details together after he asked my husband to take care of renting the room at the recreation center for the night. Andrew set out to solicit donations, and enlisted the services of a disc jockey and his brother’s band as entertainment. A friend’s mom donated the soda, candies and goodies, and he asked adults to chaperone the party.

The dance was a great success, and $2,000 was raised. A Boston Globe reporter interviewed him, and an article followed. Soon, donations flowed in from the greater Boston community. One person sent tickets to an NSYNC concert, which were sold to the highest bidder. All this raised another $2,000, also donated to the Avon Fund.

To date, Andrew has held two more annual dances that raised thousands of dollars for the Memorial Sloane-Kettering and Massachusetts General Hospital’s Breast Cancer Research Centers. He now is the disc jockey for the dances, advertises for the events, places donation boxes at local businesses and has become quite the entrepreneur for charity events.

Living with cancer has become part of our everyday lives, and as my survival continues, the boys have grown accustomed to my life and live like normal kids. We all understand it is important to live each day—with the emphasis on living, not just surviving. The lessons learned are real, not from video games.

We all know that life isn’t fair. Some face war and famine; some deal with poverty and crime; others face illness . . . and all of us have to accept our current conditions, fight our battles and look forward with hope for the future.

Recently, the cancer has progressed to my brain. After a number of stereostatic surgeries, whole and partial brain radiation treatments and continuing chemotherapy, our family continues to fight the battle.

This spring, Andrew was given the Principal’s Award at the eighth-grade commencement, honored in part for his continuing community service and breast cancer fundraising activities. Of course, we were very proud when the principal said, “He is a leader among his classmates, particularly in service-oriented projects. When he feels passionate about something, Andrew doesn’t take no for an answer.” It was also noted that “he is guided to make the world a better place.”

He has certainly made my world a better one!

Ellen B. Leavitt

More stories from our partners