Photo Courtesy of Esther Kim
Typically, people suspect that cancer patients are adults who happen to develop it by chance or genetics.
Esther Kim ‘20 was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma Cancer on April 8, 2015. She shares poems and writings about her journey with cancer on social media platforms for the sake of spreading awareness.
“Although I had chemotherapy for four months, it felt like four years; staying in bed all day, thinking of all the fun my friends and other kids were having,” said Kim. “My mentality through having six rounds of chemotherapy stripped me away from ever looking towards the future.”
Through those rounds of chemotherapy, Kim struggled with keeping hope and optimism. In an Instagram post to honor World Lymphoma Awareness Day, she mentioned how she was “in [her] hospital bed crying and yearning to step out of the hospital to just live like a kid for even a second.”
“Being stripped from my confidence, stripped from my emotions, I no longer knew how to feel,” said Kim. “I was in a dark place where both my body and mind were regressing.”
Despite the trials she faced, Kim was able to realize that she did not have to “face [the] situation with depression, but instead, face it with optimism one day.”
“I realized that I can have a positive outlook and be happy even with cancer ruining my body, ‘cause my mind was not ruined by cancer at least,” said Kim. “From then on, with my body getting weaker and weaker, I was becoming brighter and brighter as the sun.”
Kim was released from Los Angeles Children’s Hospital on July 14, 2015. From that day, she continues to spread and embrace positivity, even though she constantly questions a relapse of her cancer when feeling ill or feeling a lump on her neck. Despite these scares, her story allows people to see her differently.
“I realize that cancer was a gift from God to her because now she is a voice for all the cancer survivors and their stories,” said Hayley Kang ‘20. “Cancer was not deterrent to Esther’s life but instead a new road that has given her a new goal in life.”
Kim’s four month journey with cancer has changed the way she receives the challenges and hardships of her life as it is.
“When life shoves her off the beaten path, she doesn’t look around to see who watched,” said Daniel Yao ‘20. “She doesn’t cry about how bad it hurt. So what does she do? She keeps moving on.”
Kim’s battle with cancer has enlightened her ideals and values that she carries. Kim reminds her social media audience that “[she] is beautiful no matter how society defines beauty” because “[she] is [her] own definition of beauty.”
“I don’t like the term ‘cancer victim’ because in a certain way, after the storm passes, I am grateful to have gone through cancer,” said Kim. “I searched long and wide for a term to define who I am as a person, and I concluded that I am going to call myself ‘cancer free.’ Being a childhood cancer survivor was a dream but being a childhood cancer survivor is my reality now.”