• I drive a 1996 Buick Regal. It is in beautiful condition and reminds me of a tank. Everyone tells me that the shiny teal and classic feel of the car suit me perfectly. Personally, I adore my vehicle for many reasons. The car itself is magnificent, and the memories I have shared with the car could never be replaced. Above all, my favorite memory about my beloved Buick is that the car once belonged to my grandmother, and was given to me about a week after she passed away from leukemia.

    My grandma’s first battle began in the spring of 1996 when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She underwent a round of chemotherapy and a complete hysterectomy. The treatment was successful, and she remained cancer-free for nine years.

    She was again diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2005. The cancer cells had not yet attached to any vital organs, and doctors were able to remove the mass. Another round of chemotherapy was prescribed, but she was not able to finish the entire treatment. The recommended number of treatments was six. My grandmother only completed four. At sixty-six, she was too weak to continue after the fourth round. Her red blood cell count had dropped dangerously low and her oncologist canceled the remaining treatments, since the cancer had been almost entirely obliterated.

    By 2007, she had beaten cancer twice. It was unthinkable that she had survived both trials, especially considering her age. Then, in January, she went to see her oncologist for her regular biannual check-up. Her white blood cell and platelet counts were extremely low. My grandma was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. As the year progressed, her bone marrow had completely stopped producing new blood cells. She needed two to three transfusions per week, and because of her vulnerability to infection, her home needed to be kept very clean and her diet was limited.

    My grandmother passed away in November of that year. Near the end, the doctors had tried their hardest to grant her eligibility for a bone marrow transplant, but her disease was so rare that they did not know enough to classify the disorder in the necessary category for her to receive the transplant. The doctors decided the disease was a type of leukemia brought on from previous chemotherapy treatments that had weakened her immune system, but even the most elite professionals could not make an official diagnosis.

    Despite the torment of her horrible condition, my grandma remained positive throughout every minute of it. No matter how difficult the times were, or how fed up she was with the hospitals, or how sick she was of all the pills and IVs, she never gave up and never let the hope fall from her expression. Even on the worst days, she and my mom would support each other and find some way to look on the bright side, or to laugh. My grandmother would not have survived as long as she did if it were not for her smiling.

    During the months of my grandma’s illness, I tried my best to absorb every bit of the situation. I learned more from her than I ever had from anyone, simply because of her determination and lightheartedness. She taught me to keep moving forward, even if the entire world was holding me back. She taught me to lean on those closest to me when I needed strength, and to laugh when my life began to spiral downward.

    My grandma also taught me how to remember people. An hour after I passed my driver’s test and was granted my license, we drove to my grandpa’s house. He laid the keys to the 1996 Buick Regal in my hand, and said, “Your grandmother would have wanted you to have it.” Now, the car sits soundly in my driveway, with her lucky rabbit’s foot and “Best Grandma in the World!” keychain dangling from the rearview mirror. I miss her dearly, but it always makes me smile to sit where she used to. When my grandma was in the driver seat, she accomplished many great feats. She was a wonderful mother, and a better grandma than I could ever ask for. She showed more courage and optimism than I thought possible in every aspect of her life. Now, it is my turn to drive, and I am determined to make her proud.