Hope is easy to find when you’re young.
Open the door and walk on through.
Place your hope in what you can achieve.
Experience life, go to college, live your dreams.
Refuse to get sick.
Evade the cancer that comes for your body at twenty-two.
Medical bills will bury you.
It, this disease, these circumstances will change everything.
Swallow your dreams—forget about college, just
Is it worth it? The life you are determined to fight for?
On disability. Still smoking. Arms and legs that don’t work.
No way to provide. No clue if and when you’ll eat.
Vow to find new life—even if it is in a pile of rust.
A symbol of life—this van—beaten up, but
As told to Kara Cavalli
As a young guy it’s easy to find hope. College is an exciting time for young guys who are just now experiencing life. I never did get to go to college. After fighting two types of cancer and being buried in medical bills at the age of 22 it’s hard to keep pressing on. When I was fighting my cancer, remission was the goal, the hope I was aiming for. But I’m there now, I’m in remission, and life hasn’t gotten any easier. I still smoke, my arms and legs are often hard to use, and I’m hard of hearing. Now I am stuck on disability without life’s essentials.
When I was able-bodied, I worked the jobs no one wanted to work. Even though the work wasn’t glamorous, I knew it was what I was made to do and I was good at it. My body no longer allows me to do that type of work. Even if I could get another job I would have no way to get there or back. It is difficult for me to walk long distances and I have no form of transportation. It’s hard to keep faith in life when you cannot work to provide for yourself let alone others. Getting food is a question each and every day. I am so thankful for programs like the Breadbasket and food stamps. Without these programs I wouldn’t have any food to survive.
That takes a lot of time—the surviving, but sometimes I dream too. A few years back I purchased my final bit of hope for this life. I bought the original 101.5 K-Rock Van, a 1974 Chevrolet G30. She hasn’t run in over 20 years but as soon as I get the title processed I’ll have her back on these local streets. I have a special connection with her because I was born the same year she came out, 1974. It’s sad to have to find hope in a beat up, broken down van. But I feel like it’s a symbol of my life; beaten up but not defeated. Like the van I’m covered in rust, but life goes on and like the van I will someday run and have a brighter future.
As told to Alex Augustyniewicz