“Well, you know what would make me feel better Morgan?” I turned to look over at my brother Matthew’s not yet mature baby face half covered by a scarf. A scarf given to him to keep him warm by a nurse after he lost his hair from the last round of chemo. ”What?” I asked in delight of what his witty mind could come up with next. Even though my brother was fighting a fever of 103 and a bacterial infection, I felt whatever my little warrior brother had to just have to be groundbreaking. “I just smile, it makes me feel good.”As he drifted off to sleep, his simple response reminded of his journey from this previous year and lessons I learned from him along the way.
The first lesson he taught me is that we must live with a strong heart. In April 2016, Matthew was diagnosed with stage 4 t-cell leukemia that had also caused his chest to develop several tumors, including two that were pushing against his heart to the point it should have exploded. From their prior knowledge of similar cases, the doctors were astonished his heart did not give in to the amount of stress being placed on it. Even before last year, my brother has displayed the most giving and trusting heart out of all the people I know.
Having the courage to go on when everything is against you is a lesson I will carry forever in my heart. After two months at the hospital and three strong rounds of chemotherapy, Matthew lost his ability to walk and move his limbs. Along with that came a series of events including a stroke which led him back into the hospital. Our parents were told Matthew wouldn’t make a full recovery from everything he went through and we should probably just enjoy the time we have left with him. After being told that the road ahead of him didn’t look too bright, Matthew, the warrior kid, decided he came too far just to stop. To them, his body was too frail and weak to go on but to Matthew, his body was stronger than what it was before.
Unshaken and determined, Matthew pushed himself further than any one of us imagined could be possible. Strength is the last lesson he has taught me and is continuing to teach everyone he comes in contact with. With every possible chance to give up, Matthew pushed through every hardship to become stronger than what he was before. Not only was he able to walk again, Matthew was able to finish middle school with all A’s to start his first year of high school and is now cancer-free. Witnessing everything my brother has been through over the past year, he reminded me the most important lesson of all: sometimes a smile will make everything feel better.