This Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we're committed to centering and sharing the unfiltered and authentic stories of the families who are impacted by childhood and adolesccent cancer.
We know that sharing stories can be healing for both the writer and the reader. Below, Averie Achim, a 14 year old childhood cancer survivor also know as Sweatshirt at Camp UKANDU, shares her story and how Childhood Cancer altered the course of her life.
Hello. My Name is Averie Achim, I am 14 years old and I am a survivor of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. From the ages two to four, I went through endless vigorous treatments, all to beat the illness that brings us together today. What many don’t realize is that cancer doesn’t stop when the blood test comes back negative or you ring the bell. No, it follows you in any way you could imagine.
Childhood cancer has set me at a disadvantage in life. As other toddlers were growing, learning, and living in ignorance of the bad in life, I was in a battle with one of the worst monsters of the world. As eight year olds were watching their favorite movies and playing in the yard, I was wondering where me and my family would be if I wasn’t diagnosed. In health class, all heads shoot to me when the word cancer is brought up. In life, I am an outlier, and a statistic.
To me, Camp Ukandu is an escape from the chase that is cancer. It’s a place full of people that understand the journey, whether it’s a sibling, a survivor or even a doctor that has seen the struggle countless times. It’s a community of outliers, just like me, that relate and grieve in the same ways I do.
I walked into camp with one thing in mind, going home. I was in a new place, with unknown people with no contact with the world I knew. Once again, I felt like an outlier. In as little as 2 hours, the stress I had been carrying had been lifted, and been replaced with a sense of security. Throughout the week, not once was I the outlier, or the sick kid, I was just a friend and member of the family.
Going to camp allowed me to be the kid that cancer striped away from me. It gave me the opportunity to play games and mess around with people that I knew truly understood why moments like that were so special. Most importantly, Camp Ukandu gave me hope that I could be appreciated and loved for who I was, who I am and who I am going to be, no matter the battles I encounter with the chase of cancer along the way.
So, to Ukandu, I thank you for everything you have given me. You have proved that I, and thousands of other kids throughout time are more than an unfortunate story, a statistic, an outlier. Nothing will ever amount to the love, support and community you have provided for those that have been struck down by what can only be described as pure evil.