Saturday, October 18, 2014

Halloween while you’re a cancer patient….

Hello Everyone, I’m Spencer Harrison, for a quick introduction to myself I’m the founder and CEO of Teen with a Dream, but I’m also a cancer survivor. At the age of 14 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a rare form of cancer. I had the unfortunate and unpleasant task of going through chemotherapy through during Halloween. I was diagnosed the week before I started my freshman year of High School, one would think I would have started to feel left out and upset then but I did not. The truth is I didn’t really know what to think when I was first diagnosed in August of 2003. But I did start to feel left out when Halloween rolled rounded. Growing up we all know Halloween is a right of passage,  at school everyone dresses up and you spend the day searching for the best costume. Even in classes you wait for the teachers to come in so see how creative they got. All of this and you spend the day so hopped up on sugar you barley notice that you are actually in class. After school you get to eat more candy and then spend time running around at night with your friends getting free candy. So when you spend a lifetime of school parities and spending time with your friends it is tough to realize that there is no Halloween for you this year. Most chemotherapy kids can’t go to school because of low immunity and I was one of them. So Halloween became the crowning item on my list of things that were taken away from me and it well, made me mad! So the purpose of this post is not so that I can express my righteous anger, but so that I can share things that helped me.  The first being friends, close family friends came over and had dinner and then went trick or treating, I can’t tell you how nice it is to have friends who understand you but also treat you like normal. Second would be being able to wear a mask outside and it not look weird, Halloween is all about the custom and for once my very pale skin, no hair, and need to wear a hospital mask fits in and so embrace it.  And lastly, doing something normal, find a way to celebrate like you did before you were diagnosed. It truly helps. When we can show that cancer doesn’t take everything from us it makes it that much easier to go in every week and battle it.  That is why with my nonprofit we wanted to put on a Halloween party every year in germ lite environment so that it allows you to feel a little normal on Halloween. 
I hope you find these tips and my story helpful, and Happy Halloween. 
Spencer Harrison 

Founder Teen with a Dream, Cancer Survivor

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