“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to make many ripples”
A couple of weeks ago as we were driving, my mom randomly asked me what was on my bucket list. She went on to say that one of her students had asked her this same question the day before and it was something she couldn’t stop thinking about. After considering this for a little, I responded that I’d like to make a difference; leave the world a better place than it was before. Most people would say they want to travel the world, see all 50 states, which I would totally love to do but it’s not the most important thing to me. I’d rather die knowing that I made a difference, that I changed lives through my friendship, and that I seized every opportunity to make the world a better place.
For the past two weeks, I’ve testified against the physician assisted suicide bill in Maryland. Although the name makes it pretty obvious, just to explain it, the legislation would enable someone with a terminal illness or a diagnosis of only a short time to live to be allowed to go to a doctor and request life-ending medication. Because of both moral beliefs and personal experiences, I am completely against this bill. Not only do I believe that no one but God can take a life but I know from experience that doctors and their predictions are not always correct. When I was 3 years old, my dad was diagnosed with ALS and lived for almost eight years with the disease despite the fact doctors told him he only had two years to live. Two years later, I was diagnosed with brain cancer and within the span of 3 years, underwent two surgeries to remove the tumor. Shortly after the second surgery, the tumor returned and my only option was radiation. Although it destroyed my cancer, the radiation scattered throughout my brain and caused me to become physically disabled. Within several months, I could no longer walk, crawl, or do much on my own and by age 8, doctors told my parents I had weeks to live. (Definitely the kind of news every parent wants to hear) Unwilling to give up, I started to receive therapy, I retaught myself to walk and to live again. I am now 26 and showing no sign of death. Just goes to show you that even the smartest doctors in the world cannot always make accurate predictions and one should never underestimate the power of the human spirit.
If I had given up at 8 years old and chose death, I would have missed out on so many great experiences and amazing friendships. I would be lying if I said my life is perfect. There are days when I can’t stand being disabled, I get depressed and frustrated with what I can’t do, but as I mentioned in my testimony, I remind myself that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
For me, testifying against this was an opportunity to make a difference, add one more thing to make my bucket list, and affect how people view an issue. I know not everyone may agree with my opinion but isn’t the beauty of America?!
One of my favorite quotes states “You were born with the ability to change someone’s life, don’t ever waste it.” Maybe making a difference in the world isn’t on your bucket list but maybe it should be. We don’t all have the opportunity to testify in front of the Senate but each of us was born with our own, unique gifts that no one else has. So how have you made a difference today?