Letters

Jul 19th 2004
This page will be updated with new letters every 1 to 2 months.

7/20/04

My experience actually took place 2 years ago. A friend of mine had
volunteered at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and had asked me to join up
for the summer. I had recently lost my grandmother to cancer, so I was
a bit reluctant, but I decide to go ahead. The bulk of my time as a
volunteer was spent in the lab, doing menial work. That all changed,
however, the day I met Lucy. Lucy was your normal 10 year-old girl,
normal that is, except for the cancer that was eating away at her
brain.

By the time I met her, she had already outlived the doctors projection
by two months. She was as unsick as a sick girl could be. We would
spend time at the park, and occasionally go to the zoo, among other things.
What amazed me about her was the willingness with which she faced her
death. She showed no fear. We would talk about the inevitable, but she
was always more concerned how her parents would deal with everything
than the fact that she wouldn't be in this world much longer. A little
more than a month after I met her, Lucy took a turn for the worst. Even
then she wasn't scared. A Christian, I'm certain that provided a great
deal of her strength. The last days of her life were spent drifting in
and out of consciousness. Even when she was conscious, she was rarely
coherent. We were able to talk a few times, and each time she told me
how she was going to miss her mom and dad, but she never cried. Finally
one day, the doctor said she probably wouldn't make it through the
night. Her parents graciously allowed me to stay by her side, but she
continued to fight. She fought all the way to the end, a full two weeks
after the doctor had told us she wouldn't make it through the night. By
sheer luck, if you can call it that, I happened to be there when she
took her last breaths in this world. As sad as I was that she was no
longer here with us, I was also glad that she was finally free of the
hell she had been put through.

I didn't know Lucy for very long, but she was my friend, and I'm proud
to call her so. She also taught me a very important lesson. That is the
little things can be the most important. I never really stopped to
admire a beautiful day before I met her. Now, everytime when happens
upon me, I take some time to appreciate it. She also showed an amazing
amount of strength and courage in the worst possible of situations. I
know that Lucy showed more strength in the time I knew her, than I have
shown in my 21 years. Her death was pretty hard on me, and I have not
gone back to volunteer since because of that. But now, because of
Project: New Future, I will once again volunteer at M.D. Anderson. In
doing so, I hope to show the same strength that Lucy showed me, and
perhaps I will find another friend there.

For those of you who are on the fence about going, or those of you who
have decided not to, I urge you to do it. You cannot imagine the
difference it can make to a sick child, but also a great difference in
your life.

Sincerely,
Jeff La Vergne

10/30/04

I was a volunteer at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for the last 3 summers. I worked in the pediatric ward summer school classroom and spent at least 10 hours a week with the children. I had special times with each of them but my most memorable is with a 6year-old named Annie. We spent the entire summer together, I often got there early and stayed late with her. She had the biggest smile and the largest heart. She was strong for such a young child. By the end of the summer we had become like sisters. Sad to say though, Annie passed away a few months later from her cancer. But I can honestly say not only did I touch her life, she also touched mine. The hospital was MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. The staff members who helped me were Maggie Suttles and Amy Sohn. My name is Kenna C. Weaver.

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