Darkness Showed Me How to Be Stronger


I am Danny Valerius, and I am a 12-year-old seventh grader. I like to do good, learn in school, play lots of basketball, talk to my friends and hang out with my three older brothers. I like the color yellow and try to use it as much as I can at any time. Watching DC and Marvel movies are always fun. My favorite hero is probably Ant-Man or Duke Victory. During the season of winter, I usually cuddle up inside, but occasionally I go outside and play in the snow. I have not gone sledding this year though I plan to.

Before maintenance, induction and intensification was when I had the most pain. It was not physical pain, but mentally and spiritually. This pain was coming from being away from my family when I was in the hospital – even though my mom lived there in my hospital room with me and Dad came with my brothers to visit me every night they possibly could. Seeing how I was delaying the members of my family’s lives by having them worry about me and not focusing on their daily goals was heartbreaking for me.

Because of this, I just sunk deeper into despair. I let myself believe that there was no hope for me and that I am just an obstacle in everybody’s lives. The thing about the darkness is that it couldn’t get any darker; you have to try and find your way out to the light. Despair will keep you in the dark for a very long time if you don’t try to find a way out to the light. The darkness helped me in a way, because I think there won’t be another time in my life when I think I am done for. The darkness showed me how to be stronger in the worst of situations that seem impossible.

At school, I had a lot of friends. At the hospital, I had the nurses as friends. Even though the nurses were all smiles and funny, I would prefer a lunch table full of classmates over a hospital bed with a nurse adjusting my IV pole. My whole class stayed in contact with me. They sent me notes and we talked by Skype whenever we could. My Mom encouraged me to Skype as much as I could.  Sometimes I didn’t want to Skype just because I was very tired which changed my emotions about interacting with people.

Most of the time, I dreaded talking to people even though I loved to talk before I was diagnosed. I regret rejecting the offers to Skype with my family and friends now. I look back and see how a little selfish I was. Once I got back to school I was terrified! As soon as I got there, every teacher and student I met or passed by said, “Nice to have you back Danny” or “Welcome back Danny” and that made me feel relieved to know that I am not an alien from Mars. My friends helped me whenever I needed help. They were definitely aware of my illness, but I didn’t try to avoid or hide from me. They know I have cancer, but they treated me and still do treat me like a normal kid in their grade. I am forever grateful to them for that.

One time in the hospital, a doctor told me I might have to get a feeding tube put into my belly because I had lost twenty pounds, which put me down to sixty pounds. That night I was in the hospital, in my bed with my mom in a chair right next to me. I started to cry. Trying to hold back the tears, I asked my mom if I was going to get a feeding tube put into me. She then started crying with me and said she really didn’t know. My mom told me she was so sorry for everything that I was going through. After I saw her pain, I tried to lighten things up by holding her hand and telling her it was okay to cry. She left the room for about twenty minutes after that. Seeing my mom in sorrow actually made me feel less scared because seeing someone sad with me showed me that I was not the only one who needed healing, and I am not the only one who is weak.

In my cancer treatment, there were many difficult parts of it. One part was the most painful: I hope no kid will have to face the anxiety, depression and hopelessness that comes from cancer.

For my future, I actually think of the worst possible scenarios, which is just a habit I should throw away. Sometimes I just pray to God that whatever my future holds for me, I will learn to accept it. I sometimes think of never getting stronger or being able to succeed in academics. Everyone around me believes in me and have proof that I will have a great future.

Written by Danny Valerius, leukemia survivor