Character Matters Essay Contest, 1st Place, Elementary School Division
When I was eight years old, and in third grade, my dad and my whole family went through a difficult time. That’s when my dad was first diagnosed with a large cancerous tumor in his right leg. I didn’t know a lot about cancer before that, but I’ve learned more about it over the past year and a half. I’ve also learned a lot about the strength and courage you need to be able to get through challenging times when everything seems uncertain.
When I think about character traits and values that I think are important in life, going through this experience with my family has taught me many things. It has taught me to be positive even when things are challenging. I learned from the example my dad set that you can never give up, no matter what. Throughout everything that happened to him, my dad never complained, and he was so strong and brave. Watching him go through his surgery, his cancer treatments, and his therapy has inspired me greatly to always give whatever it is that I’m doing my best effort.
My dad had to stop working, had surgery to remove the tumor, and had lots of radiation and physical therapy to try to get better. He couldn’t walk for awhile and my mom had to drive him everywhere. There were days when I could tell my dad was tired or in pain, but he still tried his best and told his doctors and his therapists that he was going to do “ten times better” than the goals they had set for him. And guess what? He did just that most of the time because of his determination to get better and his positive mental attitude.
Some days I felt scared because I didn’t know what was going to happen and my dad wasn’t feeling very good. When I felt that way, my family, friends, and my teachers really helped me out by staying positive and strong for me, which helped me get back to thinking positive again.
My dad has made a lot of improvement in the last year and a half. Dealing with my dad’s cancer has changed me in several ways. Before my dad was sick, I wasn’t very confident in myself. I didn’t think I could handle difficult situations or extreme challenges. While my dad was in the hospital having surgery to remove the tumor from his leg, I was very fearful that something bad could happen during the surgery. But I went to school that day and I tried my best to keep my mind off of the things that scared me and I prayed that my dad would be okay. Making it through a hard thing like my dad’s cancer has taught me that I do have the strength inside of me. I am not a scaredy-cat like I thought I was!
My mom is also a role model for me. While my dad was going through this, my mom took care of him and my younger sister and me the whole time. She had to do everything for all of us and never once complained. She made sure we could see our dad after surgery and told us what dad was going through so we weren’t as worried.
All year long, mom made sure my sister and I had lots of fun and special things to do, even though she was taking care of my dad full-time. She still volunteered at my school and at our church’s bible camp during the summer.
My mom sits down with me every night and helps me and my sister with our schools projects and homework. She helps out at school and church events, even if she is tired. One of the biggest reasons I do so well in school is because of my mom’s love, support and encouragement. My mom always tells me that I can be anything I want to or dream to be if I do my best and do something that I enjoy.
One of the best lessons my mom has taught me ever is to always give to people who need help. Last year, I helped her in donating school supplies to the Monarch School for homeless kids, food drives for poor families, and Christmas presents for kids in Mexico, even though our family was struggling through a hard time because of my dad’s health condition at the time.
I appreciate my parents’ example of courage to stay strong and brave and to never give up, no matter what. It’s also very important to be kind to others and do what we can to help make a positive difference in the world. I believe these character values will help me as I go through life and in the decisions that I will make in the future.