(Mvt.4) Finale.

Monday night, the Bethune CI Music Department hosted their annual spring concert. This year, I was involved with a lot more ensemble performances than I was ever before. Playing for the stage band, stage band + jazz choir combo, wind ensemble, and the combined choir with the wind ensemble, I felt quite productive. Particularly, in the section for the stage band and jazz choir, I could hear myself as I was not drowned out by my section mates (they tend to have a more prominent and louder sound). It was a moment where I could be seen beaming with pride even if it was probably the piece I played the most poorly out of them all. But it didn’t matter, it was my piece and my moment to shine.

Tuesday, I was back at Holland-Bloorview Kids Rehab for an appointment with my speech therapist and a social worker. There, I played for them my TEDxTalk and discussed some of the successes at school in terms of my summatives and the fundraising for my 5k run with the Brain Tumour Foundation.  They all seemed so proud and amazed. For a regular person they thought it was already amazing, but to be able to do this starting from the position I was in, it seems even crazier.

Today (Wednesday), I showed a teacher that missed the because he was not there the day of, and finally asked my English teacher for some feedback about it as well. Later, I went back to my elementary school to visit some of the teachers I missed the last time I went back. The combination of all these things together that made really made me realize and put together all the events of this year.  Bunched together, it seems like such a quick and miraculous journey. But living through it, it felt like a long and almost treacherous path to go through. However, the effort exerted matches the final outcome. For the amount of work and effort I put into this, I shouldn’t be surprised that I am where I am now.

Just like my music teacher, Mr. Sylvester, says, “they leave (graduate) just when they get interesting”. And it’s true, we always leave just when we feel like we finally belong to the school. Once we feel comfortable, our personalities seem to flourish and always at that moment, we have to leave. For me, I will have that extra year to continue to get more interesting, but as all my friends continue to talk about their university plans, I can’t help but feel trapped. Today, we also discussed the executive team for DECA next year. And as I looked at the board of names we selected for the team, I feel like it is starting to feel doable – being able to survive and continue on without my friends (for the last 14 years for some and at least the last 3/4 for others). The reality of having to work with people I don’t really know seems more and more possible. It’s difficult for me to remember all the things that have happened, and it always feels like it was just yesterday OR it feels like it was YEARS ago. Always, I fail to realize that highschool is supposedly only 4 years and things that seem a long time ago were really just last year or a couple months back. Looking at the bigger picture, we (the grade 12s) have all grown dramatically. Maybe not to who we exactly expected ourselves to be, but I think whatever changes we have made to ourselves may be even better than what we expected.

I guess the goal of this blog was not the brag about everything that I’ve done well, but to somehow help people realize that it’s so easy to lose track of your own progress. You may get so caught up in the small picture that you lose sense of how you are doing as a whole. Photography and documentation is such a great thing. It can help you remember and somehow keep alive that feeling of the event that you capture. Although there are some things that are better left untouched, there’s always some sort of benefit of at least saving and capturing that moment to be able to decide later on. Just as I have been doing with my blogs.

Fortunately/unfortunately, this won’t be my Finale. I still have one more year to do all the things that I missed this year. To be the DECA (co)-president that I was meant to be, to complete the infamous advanced functions and calculus, to go through the application process to universities, to catch up on some of the leadership opportunities I’ve missed, and to just catch up on things in general to help make myself even more interesting.

My dad once told me that he learnt how to swim being thrown into the water, and that is kind of similar to what has happened to me. I was thrown into this terrible situation, but I’ve learnt how to cope with it and somehow end up even better than I could have imagined. There may have been a better way to go about it to get to a similar result, but I think there’s still some aspect of it that’s unique to go through a traumatic experience like this. This will not be my last post as a goodbye to all my friends that are graduating to new opportunities, but it’s a start. There are not enough words to thank them, or my teachers in all my years of school (which I will likely write a post on next year).

But all I can say now is thank you. You know who you are: those that has helped me in the hospital, in rehab, transitioning back to school, and my peers and mentors that have helped me try to find myself in general. It’s because of you that I am who I am now. And although I am one that enjoys to take credit, I gotta share it when the credit is due.

Thank You.


PS: The title of this blog is based on one of the pieces we played at the concert -Mahler Symphony No.1 Mvt.4 (Finale)! How convenient is that!


Age is Just a Number.

It’s me again, the “puke girl” of the 6ix.
It has been what feels like years since I’ve last made a post. A lot of things has happened: I did a TedTalk for the school, I’ve started writing for myself in what is like private journal on my computer, it’s been just over a year since my grandfather passed, and it’s approximately this time last year when I started to have my symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and headaches.

I hate this time of year. The stress of summative season is already bad, but add that to two really stressful reminders of really terrible times in my life has made me emotionally and physically experience the pain again. I started to feel my headaches increase, I’ve been throwing up more often, and with everything ending off, I’m starting to realize the beginning of the end is here. The last little while, I’ve been hanging out with my friends more often again as it is summer and I can physically get places on my own more easily now (with time spent healing and nicer weather). The fact that I can do all these things that I used to do has helped me feel more normal and more grown-up.

But then it hits me, I should be grown up – I’m almost 18! Right now, as part of my reintegration I go to math tutoring for advanced functions. The class is filled entirely with grade 11s with one grade 10 even. They are all cruising through the course while I struggle.


I also go to a recreational volleyball thing at a community center. I am pretty sure I’m the oldest one there, yet I still cannot overhand serve over the net anymore. Some of the kids seem to almost laugh when I serve the ball and it goes flying!…straight into the net. Today, a new person came in – a tall guy who plays pretty well. It seems like he’s friends with one of the staff. The staff is around my age I think, probably only a bit older which led my to think that this person must be in grade 12 as well. Then the other staff member asks him, “How old are you?” – “I’m in grade 10”, he replies.


I also went shopping today; as I tried on clothes in the store, I stared at myself in the mirror. Looking into myself in the mirror I first noticed my  tired eyes on a baby-face. I then notice my flaws. My skin that is broken and bruised by my acne and uncontrollable urges to scratch and pick at it, and my short legs that seem to only look shorter as I try on these jeans. I look at my feet and notice that my right ankle is leaning inwards a lot more than my left, and I being to wonder how much of that is because of the weakening of my right side and how much of that is just because of my bad posture. I look at my wrists and notice my veins and the broken blood vessels and scars from the needles and IV. I glance back into the mirror and see that my hair continues to stick upwards around the incision no matter how much I try to style it and fix it to cover these new bald spots – I guess I will just have to keep on wearing my headband. I feel my scalp and brush over the bumps on my skull and realize the headache I’m having and start to feel nauseous. Visually, I am very small and almost child-like externally. Health-wise, I suffer the joint pain and muscle pain of someone much older. I am some sort of mutant hybrid between a child and an older adult. Between never growing up and growing up too fast, I get to experience the fears of both.

I am a child that is almost old enough to buy a lottery ticket or old enough to vote. A child that is about to lose all her friends to university and will have to learn to make new friends just like when she first entered kindergarten. A child that is old enough to drive, but has yet been cleared to drive by her doctors.

The fact that I am so behind on so many things really stresses me out. And the thought of the fact that I will have to go through all of my struggles of senior year without my friends for the past 14 years will be an interesting but difficult and terrifying journey.

I try to think about the amazing things I’ve done. I’ve volunteered and worked at some amazing places to help some great people. I’ve been a part of great leadership opportunities and various councils inside and outside of school. I’ve aced courses and gotten top awards. I’m currently fundraising for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for the 5k that I’m doing this summer (even got the business leadership classes to donate their project earnings to my cause!). Oh right, and the whole surviving a brain tumour thing of course.

Clearly, when I’m not too busy tooting my trombone, I’m really good at tooting my own horn.

May is also brain tumour/brain cancer awareness month. HONY (Humans of New York) have been doing a special feature on pediatric brain tumours. I love reading their stories, it reminds me that there are many other people like me and if they can do it, I can. Whenever I feel completely terrible, I  just have to take a minute to realize that there must be others on Earth that feel equally (if not more) terrible as me  – people that I hope to one day help doing whatever I choose to do as a career in my future. Currently, I’ve been fundraising using my business leadership group summative project – Kaleido Tees. My group makes and sells tie-dye t-shirts and pocket tees. As of right now, we have 3 shirts left out of the 25 we made originally.

(update: we have sold all of our first batch and are now accepting custom pre-orders)
I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty great. Literally having to hand-dye the shirts and sew on the pockets with a needle and thread (thanks mom for helping), this is one of the few times I feel genuinely proud of myself. The proceeds we make as well as all the rest of the groups’ will be donated to the Brain Tumour Foundation in support of my 5k run in just over a month: http://www.braintumourwalk.ca/site/TR/SpringSprint/General?px=1050818&pg=personal&fr_id=1305.

BIG YIKES -that’s coming up really soon, and between the pain in my foot and my nausea, training for it hasn’t been easy. But that’s partially the reason I’m doing it, because it is hard and I gotta work for it just like I’ve worked for everything else leading up to this point.

Every once in awhile, I just need to write something down to convince myself that I am fine and I don’t need to worry about being left behind. Everyone grows at a different pace and in different ways, I just gotta learn to let go and take my time doing the things that matter to me. I don’t know how many more blogs I will have to write to completely get that. Frankly, I don’t know if I ever will, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t at least give it a shot.

PS: I couldn’t think of a picture that satisfies all the ideas and thoughts of this post, so I decide to just use the cover picture for my business as the featured image. Free promo right?

PPS: I am getting rather critical of my writing (based partly on my thought of what my writing should be like as an “adult”). So, this is the 3rd thing I’ve written here since my last post – I either deleted or decided not to post the other two. But, I think this one has an important message (to myself and to others) that would be wasted if I didn’t post it.