For her Upper Arlington High School senior project, Maddie Spielman did a blog about her experience dealing with cancer and loss. Her words are personal and poignant. Thank you, Maddie, for joining your parents and stepping into the spotlight to share your story.

BY MADDIE SPIELMAN

Maddie SpielmanWhether I like it or not, circumstances have led me to face the trials I have experienced throughout my life in public, where everyone is always watching. This I consider to be a blessing and a curse at the same time. I want to be that strong person that people can look to as an example, but the downfall to this is that I put the idea in my head that I am not allowed to falter, and if I may, I consider that to be letting everyone down.

As many of you may know, life can never be taken for granted. My mom, Stefanie Spielman, was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was very young. Although my youth led me to be oblivious to all that she was going through at most times, her strength and peace are something that I will always remember. She was never concerned about herself, but always about the well-being of our family. Often times I forgot that we were different, or that anything was wrong at all. My mom used her disease to raise awareness and help those who were battling cancer as well. She never once questioned God’s plan for her and instead of sitting around feeling sorry for herself, she stood up and did something about it. When once asked why she thought she had to go through all of the pain and suffering cancer brings along with it, she simply smiled and said, “Why not me?” Sometimes I try to put myself in the same position my mom was in. To this day it astonishes me how much faith she had throughout her journey, and quite honestly I do not know how she did it. It takes a true warrior to get up every morning with a smile on your face, knowing that the odds may not always be in your favor. My mom was and forever will be the role model to how I live my life.

On November 19, 2009, my mom passed away. I was a sophomore in high school, only 15 years old. At that point in time I had become so numb to pain that many weeks after her passing I still had to remind myself that I wasn’t living in some dream and that she wasn’t coming back. I lived in some state of disbelief and cluelessness for many months after that day. There was no general guideline or rulebook as to how someone was supposed to act after the loss of a loved one, but I frequently found myself wishing there was. But I went on with my normal routine—well, as normal as it possibly could have been. I became accustomed to the sad stares in the hallway or the quiet “I’m sorrys.” I felt utterly and completely alone. No matter how many people came up to me on a given day, they could never possibly even begin to comprehend how I was feeling so it was not even worth it to me. Every emotion that I began to feel, I quickly bottled up and threw it to the back of my mind. I talked to no one about my struggles, my sadness or my regrets. Then one day I realized I could not keep living this way and that I did not need to be this miserable all the time. This is not what my mom would have wanted for me, I thought. One quote that she said to us before she passed was, “Never use my death as an excuse for anything, but motivation for everything.” After replaying her saying that to me countless times in my head, I knew I had to make a change. It was then that I began talking to my friends and family about the loss of my mom. A huge weight seemed to be lifted off my shoulders the second I opened my mouth and I felt free from the burden that I had carried with me for so long. Because they had lived through the loss, they could easily relate to me and I no longer felt alone.

So why did I write this blog? I don’t want kids who have lost a parent to go through what I went through. They need to know that they are indeed not alone and that other kids are going through circumstances just like theirs. I want to use my experiences to help my peers and let them know that loss of a loved one is okay to talk about and that they do not have to hold those feelings inside them anymore.

To share your reactions to Maddie’s blog, please visit maddiespielman.wordpress.com.

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