Meagan’s Story – Unexpected Inspiration
Walking on to the boat, I knew it was going to be a special night, a night I would never forget. Little did I know that by the end of the night I would end up inspired with new found insight.
Two weeks prior, my Aunt Kathy approached me with the idea of being a volunteer for the ‘Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’ and the BrainWAVE group. I knew it was an offer I couldn’t turn down. I immediately jumped at the special opportunity; I didn’t have to think about my answer.
BrainWAVE is made up of volunteers who host events for kids who live around BC and the lower mainland; kids who have had brain tumours and survived, like my Aunt Kathy. Every couple of months, the group organizes a different activity for brain tumour survivors to get together, hang out, be normal and feel special by being with their peers who have been through similar challenges. I volunteered for the” Christmas Carollers’ Cruise” event, a 4 hour cruise around Vancouver.
Watching all the kid’s beam with excitement as they walked on to the boat with their families made my heart melt. The boat was beautifully decorated with every Christmas decoration imaginable. There was a booth set up for a DJ and a dance floor that would soon come alive with high spirited dancing kids. Every single one of them seemed genuinely happy and very exited. I had the chance to talk and hang out with many of the kids. Each one had a unique feature or personality trait that set them apart from everyone else. Some where still going through treatment and were swollen from radiation, or were wearing wigs because of hair loss from chemotherapy and radiation. They were all special in their own way. All of the energy on the boat was mainly produced by the kids which was contagious and filled everyone else with joy.
When it was time for the carollers to perform many kids jumped up and started singing with them, pretending they were part of the carollers, causing the audience to smile and chuckle with delight.
During the night, two kids in particular really stood out to me. One was a boy who is 10 years old. When he was only 6 months old, Casey was diagnosed with a brain tumour, which he survived. Unfortunately all the radiation he was faced with to get rid of the tumour, stunted his growth. When I first saw him, I honestly thought he was 6 years old, but after talking with him for only a few minutes, his size didn’t fool me! He is wise beyond his years. He is so bright and has a fantastic sense of humour. He focuses on staying positive during his hard times. He is an inspiration to me and anyone who comes in contact with him. He is quick witted and easily draws you into his world of playfulness and laughter.
One of the girls that made a huge impact on me is a 13 year old. All the radiation treatment she underwent to eradicate her brain tumour left her with an under developed metabolic system. We bonded very quickly. I was honoured that she trusted me enough to share some confidences. She told me why she loved hanging out with the Brainwave group so much. She wistfully said “it doesn’t matter who you are, or what you look like, on this boat nobody is mean to you and you are always included in all the activities. It’s an escape from the real world.” Those words almost brought me to tears. It made me realise how difficult it must be for these kids. How much they must struggle to fit in. I know how high school works, if you are different in any way, you are looked down on, frowned upon, considered weird or strange. Not many people can appreciate the uniqueness of special individuals; they only see them for their differences and judge them.
Talking more to these amazing kids finally made me realise that every single one of them had so much hope and positivity. They have been to the edge of the abyss, looked into deaths dark eyes, and not just survived, but learned how to thrive. They seemed not to have a care in the world. Even with all the challenges they have to face in their life, they manage to keep their heads held high and treat everyone with love and respect. It’s tragic to think that in order to be truly kind to people, you would have to go through a life threatening situation to finally realise no one deserves to be treated unkindly or disrespectfully. I learned so much from these amazing kids and I know other people could too.
We spent the rest of the night singing and dancing the night away. Those incredible kids will always have a special place in my heart. I thought I was volunteering to give something to those less fortunate than myself. As it turns out, they are the ones who gave me more than I could have ever imagined, insight, inspiration, a new found resolve to stay positive. Success doesn’t bring you to happiness, happiness brings you to success. Just spending 4 short hours with these special young people, all of them wise beyond their years, made a huge impact on my life. More than they will ever know.
This Changed Me As A Person
This experience made me recognize that when I step outside of my own small world, what I perceive as problems in my own life are minimal compared to kids my own age, and younger, who literally have life threatening challenges. It makes me realize how truly blessed I am. How insignificant my problems and challenges are. I have a different perspective on life’s challenges. I’ve learned not to take anything for granted. I now believe the quote “that which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” With the help of these special young people, I grasp how small all my problems seem compared to theirs. How can I complain about little difficulties in my life when their lives are ten times harder. Even with all the challenges they have faced they still manage to go through life with such grace, positivity and a smile on their beautiful faces. They should be an inspiration to everybody.
Meagan, White Rock/South Surrey, BC