Painting A Smile

           by Lillian Manachino

When little Evan was born he was diagnosed with a brain cancer. He was placed in a wheelchair at the age of four. Every week nurses would come in and take care of him. His parents helped the nurses any way they could.

Evan hated being in a wheelchair and wished he could be like the other kids, not needing to be in a wheelchair and able to walk. His parents felt bad and decided to get the nurses to work with him to walk again.

Years went by and though Evan got stronger, he still could not walk.

Evan attended a special school until he was 8. Then his parents allowed him to go to a public school and continue his therapy there.

He enjoyed the first few weeks and his family and the nurses were glad to see him smile. He hadn't smiled in a long time. But after two months his cancer came back and he had to be taken out of school and placed in the hospital for special care.

Everyone in school sent him cards and candy and other things to make him smile.

When Evan had spent about a month in the hospital, the doctors caught the cancer and took it out, but told his parents if it came back one more time, to come directly to the emergency room, as they weren't sure he would survive a second time. Evan was glad to be back home and attending public school again. Everyone welcomed him back with open arms. Then after a week, his parents decided to move.

Evan was now attending a different public school. He went to a special class for therapy. On the first day at the new school, kids stared at him and made fun of him because he was in a wheelchair. When he got home that day he cried.

The parents talked to the principal and it was agreed to hold a school assembly about children in wheelchairs and how difficult it is for them. After the assembly, the kids who had made fun of him, stopped and never teased him again from that day.

Three weeks later, on a Tuesday night, with his family in bed, Evan's mother heard him breathing hard. She went to check on him, and immediately woke his father. They took Evan's temperature. It was over 100. Quickly they took him to the emergency center.

At 2 a.m. the doctors came out of the emergency room and talked to his parents. They told them that Evan had a bad cold and they wanted to keep him in the hospital for about a week. His parents stayed with him all week.

When he returned home, he began therapy again. He was growing stronger everyday. In fact, he was starting to walk. Everyone, including the doctors, was surprised to hear that.

Years passed and Evan continued to survive. He was 16 now and didn't really need the wheelchair. But when he went for his latest checkup, the doctor had bad news for his parents.

He told them that in a couple of months Evan's time would be up. There was nothing more that could be done except to keep working with him.

When everyone in school and on his block heard this, they got together and threw him a party for hanging on this long.

Two more months passed; another checkup. The doctors were surprised to see him. They thought by now his time would have been over.

When Evan returned home, everyone was excited to hear the good news that he was still hanging tight.

Evan got stronger. He could walk. He continued to attend public school, looking better than ever. Whenever anyone looked at him, he smiled at them. They said he painted a smile on their faces and brightened their day whenever they saw him. Evan brought joy to everyone he met.

From then on, Evan helped other kids in the same situation he was. No one should get treated differently just because they're in a wheelchair or they have cancer or CP, or other disease, or a learning disability. You wouldn't want anyone treating you different, would you? I thought not.

Copyright by
Lillian Manachino


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