“Why I Kesem” — Sherlock: “For the Smiles”

Every now and then at Camp Kesem events, we get asked “Why do you Kesem?” We use this question in the CK community to ask more than just why someone shows up for an awesome week of camp every summer. “Why I Kesem” goes deeper than our not-so-secret addiction to silly camp songs and love of watching the Talent Show acts every summer. “Why I Kesem” is about the story that led us to this amazing organization, and what the counselors and campers have come to mean to us. This spring, we’re spotlighting our counselors and sharing their stories. This week, we feature Sherlock, a senior Biology major from Michigan. Her favorite Disney movie is Hercules because she’s awesome.

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Although neither of my parents have had cancer, I am not fortunate enough to say that it has left my life unscathed. My great aunt passed away from lung cancer and recently my grandfather found out he has colon cancer, but the biggest impact came in the form of my friend Ali. I met Ali in 6th grade, all the elementary schools convening in the middle school. I found out that she had been diagnosed with Leukemia in 4th grade, but was in remission. At the time, I knew very little about the havoc cancer can wreak and obliviously I carried on with my middle-school life. Shortly thereafter, Ali relapsed.

Ali battled her Leukemia throughout middle school and into high school. Surprisingly, it’s not the worst times that I remember, but the brightest. Drawing giant red lips on our surgical masks when we went to visit her in the hospital, getting together at our favorite coffee shop when she was well enough to be home, wearing matching bandanas and being goofy teenage girls. Sadly, Ali passed away Christmas-time sophomore year. The lasting memories I cherish revolve around the joy she brought to everyone and the beaming smile you were always left with after seeing her, no matter her condition. Her positive attitude despite her position was unbelievable.

That is one of the things I love most about Camp Kesem. Despite the horrible things that cancer brings into your life, there are always good times that shine through. Laughter really can be the best medicine, even in small doses. Camp Kesem reminds me that while sometimes life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, you can’t let it bog you down. It pays to take time to be goofy and laugh and smile; be a kid again. I can’t fathom all the things that the campers and their families have gone through, but to help give them a week to remember that a smile on your face really can make a difference is priceless.

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