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Inspirational Stories

Cruz

acute myeloid leukemia (AML)

El Paso, TX

Cancer almost killed me, but more importantly, it made me who I am and who I will become. I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) at Texas Children’s Hospital on August 30, 2000. All that a four-year-old boy knows to do is dream. How could I know what was happening to me? I lived in a world of pure imagination. I soon realized that this was not a dream. This was a nightmare of being a bald child who threw up a lot. I don’t remember much, but I do remember telling my mom with eyes full of tears, “Mom! This hurts so much, please never leave my side!” I thought I was going to die. I would never get to hug my mother again or watch my beautiful sister’s smile. Thankfully, I survived. However, there are thousands of children who are currently going through this horrible suffering.

After I went into remission from AML, I was diagnosed with bilateral mild to profound steeply sloping sensorineural hearing loss. I went back to school in Mexico with my new hearing aids ready to embark on an adventure. I soon realized that I had trouble communicating with my family, my friends, and my teachers. They were treating me differently and feeling sorry for me. I was considered “odd.” Kids did not want to play with me, and the teachers did not want to deal with me. The rejection, frustration, and jeers were more deafening than silence itself. Everyone felt hopeless, so I wanted to prove them wrong. I was not going to be the charity kid with who everybody sympathized.

Eventually, I learned to read lips and depend on my other senses to better my Spanish and improve academically. When I was nine years old, I started going to school in El Paso, Texas, and I faced the exact same challenges in a whole new language. The teachers were more understanding, but most did not know how to handle students like me. Some of them even gave me free points or gold stars because I was falling behind. I told them I wanted to be treated like everybody else. I believed that I could do anything that was required of my classmates. And I did. I learned to master English, and I even got into an advanced math class for gifted and talented students. As of today, people don’t realize that I’m hearing impaired until they notice my hearing aids. I’m proud to say I’m fluent in Spanish and English, and there is nothing that I cannot do as a result of my hearing loss.

My hearing impairment led me to believe that anything is possible, regardless of your disability.

Being hearing-impaired has been a tough life experience. However, I’m thankful for it. Without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today. It has taught me to never make excuses, never be satisfied, and exceed expectations. After all, you set your own limits.

Cruz