I lay in my bed, staring at the blank ceiling, not knowing what to do. The beeping of machines resonated in my ears. The once spacious room I had at home was now jam-packed with all sorts of machines – life support, IV-drip bags and more than ten others which were alien to me. Then, my doctor walked in. He took some readings down from a heartbeat sensor, and told me it was time for my chemotherapy.
I groaned softly. It was no use. Cancerous cells were already spreading throughout my body. I was going to die. My doctor said that I still had hope for survival, but I refused to believe that. To me, cancer spelt the end of me. Why must I undergo the chemotherapy? Why torture a young man when he is already headed for imminent death? I was constantly vomiting ever since chemotherapy started. It ended up at a point where I had nothing left to puke, so I started puking some black fluid. My hair was dropping so quickly that I turned bald within a week. I could not take the side effects anymore. That was it.
“I’m sorry, sir, but I refuse. I shall no longer undergo chemotherapy. It is simply useless,” I answered so loudly that my parents outside heard it. Shocked, they came rushing in, mouth agape.
“No! You must press on, Daniel! You have to press on! You can survive, and I know you want to!” Father tried to convince me desperately to be persistent and accept the long, arduous treatment, while Mother wailed and cried and begged for me to undergo the therapy. I still refused. I had made up my mind to make the last of my days a less painful period.
From then on, I did absolutely nothing. I did not eat or drink much, I did not laugh at any of the jokes broadcasted on the radio. Even Mother’s delicious vats of maize soup could not bring me my joy whatsoever. I was bound to die. I had lost every ounce of hope in me.
One morning, I was gazing mindlessly outside my window. Outside my window was a maple tree. My parents had planted it in the backyard with me a decade ago when I was still a kid. I remembered watching it grow since young, and hoped I would grow as tall and as big as it was. Currently, it was old and weak, a symbol of how I was at the moment. It was winter, and much of the tree’s leaves had dropped and it was almost as bald as me after the chemotherapy. There were only six leaves left. I convinced myself that there was no point persisting in the treatment; by the time the six leaves dropped, I would have died.
Slowly, one of the leaves started swaying in the wind. It swayed more and more violently. The tree branch maintained a tight grip on it desperately. However, it soon lost its grasp. The leaf fell out of the tree’s crinkly hands and landed gently onto the cold, icy ground. I was five more leaves away from death. This cycle repeated itself for another four days, until the last leaf remained. “Finally I can leave this painful world,” I muttered to myself. I believed that I would die in my sleep that night. Taking a deep breath, I fell asleep.
The next morning, I awoke to the sound of roosters crowing, shocked to find myself lying in my bed. I was alive! Why had I not died yet? I turned around and gazed out of the window. That one last maple leaf was still there. It had not dropped. Instead, it was still hanging on the tree branch, seemingly stronger than before. This was also the case for the next few days. My jaw dropped. In the midst of the bitter, cold and harsh winter, that leaf still stayed firm on the tree branch, refusing to nudge. That leaf was pressing on.
Spring came, and the maple lead was still there. One morning when I woke, I was absolutely delighted to see another small maple leaf appear on the same branch of the maple tree. It was in bloom again. The tree was sprouting leaves again! Nature was regenerating itself! During the winter, the maple leaf on the tree was resilient enough to keep clinging onto its branch. In the spring, the tree kept persisting to grow even more leaves. The leaves were symbols of the tree’s life. Slowly, the old, weak tree was growing back into a healthy and strong one. It was pressing on. How about…me? I still have hope for survival! It is not too late! I have to press on!
From then on, things changed for the better. I resumed and began accepting my daily chemotherapy treatments. No matter how painful it was, I persisted and continued with the treatment. Also, I started spending some quality time with my family again, which was something I rarely did previously out of hopelessness about my condition. Every evening, I would have a casual conversation with Father and Mother, and I felt more comforted after spending time with them. To me, accepting the treatment and rebuilding my mental health were the key steps to improving my condition, and it apparently turned out very effective as the doctor’s latest report about me showed a tremendous improvement in my condition. I was going to be alive. I peered out of my window. It was late spring. The maple tree’s leaves had grown back; they were abundant and plentiful.
I contemplated the maple tree gratefully. It had been a long, arduous journey, but it was finally coming to an end. The once almost barren maple tree had now transformed into a tree full of lush, green leaves. It had taught me the value of resilience and brought me so much hope for life. I vowed that until I became cancer-free, I would continue pressing on.
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