As we grow older, the way we feel loved and cared for changes with our experiences. Some prefer comforting words or a helpful hand but for Brodasa, the intangible, unseen things are the most impactful.
In August of 2016, after feeling extremely ill at work, Brodasa was taken to the hospital. After a handful of blood tests, x-rays and scans, Brodasa and her family discovered that an inoperable mass was residing in her chest. At 17-years-old, Brodasa was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
During the time of her diagnosis, Brodasa received three rounds of chemotherapy and 14 sessions of proton radiation therapy; medication and treatment are measurable. The physical impacts of treatment and medication lead to healing and healthier bodies. In Brodasa’s instance, because of her treatment, this led to her exciting proclamation of being cancer free. And all while this was occurring, there was more taking place.
Months after, Brodasa’s family and friends came together for a surprise reveal that her wish was coming true: to go on a cruise to the Caribbean Islands. Passionate about travel and having lived in Belgium for five years, adventurous Brodasa packed her bags without hesitation. Rhonda, Brodasa’s mother, described her daughter as selfless and when asked about her daughter she replied, “She cares about everybody.”
Despite her heart for travel and her inability to sit in one place for too long, her ultimate decision for a travel wish was greatly contributed to her younger brothers never having flown before, proving her selflessness. “We all needed a break. It wasn’t just me—my entire family was going through it,” said Brodasa.
Rhonda said one of the highest points of the trip was when they first landed in Miami, when the wish became reality. “As a parent, to able to see your child come through from having cancer, it was more like we were celebrating as a family,” said Rhonda.
When recalling the wish experience, Brodasa is sure to mention all of the wonderful cuisine on the cruise. “They didn’t have to have a 24-hour buffet,” Brodasa jokes. She talks about the dolphins kissing her and the stingrays that were the size of her, spitting water at her. “I didn’t know they could be that big. There was one that was bigger than me—I could have ridden it like a surfboard. If they liked you, they would spit water out their mouths and they didn’t do it to a lot of people.” Brodasa went on about the things they did and the foods they ate, with Rhonda chiming in.
When Brodasa recalls the wish experience, she is attentive to the details. The details that are easily measured by outsiders, like eating the homemade chocolate chip cookies the ship made every night or recalling what she referred to as “the best herb and garlic chicken of her life.” But after a while, Brodasa goes into detail about some of the most impactful parts of her wish.
Just as the medicine she received during her treatment was easily measurable, so were many of the details of her trip. But often, there is more than meets the eye.
Brodasa begins talking about her room attendant, Louise that would make her different animals out of towels and how she looked forward to what he would leave next. Then she talks about the staff on the ship and the name tags they wore, displaying what country they were from and how much she enjoyed asking them questions. Brodasa was even able to meet the captain, sit in his chair and was shown how to navigate the ship. All while Brodasa was on her wish trip, she was cultivating relationships with those around her. “The more personal things are, it makes me feel the best.”
And all while Brodasa was in the hospital for her treatment, she was cultivating relationships with her nurses.
It’s easy to focus on the impact of treatments or medications, observing how the body reacts. But while Brodasa’s doctors and nurses observed her and took notes, Brodasa was doing the same to them. Brodasa shares that it’s because of the impact her nurses and doctors had on her life that she decided to pursue nursing. “I would love to do that for someone else, especially a child. A lot of things that happen in your childhood and the people you encounter, whether it’s just for a couple of weeks or not, really impacts you throughout your life. I won’t forget any of nurses’ names and it’s been over a year. I still remember them, what they said to me, and how they cared for me.”
And just as her treatment impacted her, Brodasa talks about the wish experience, intertwining the two experiences: “It made me more appreciative of my life. Whenever I was in the hospital, there was a little boy in the room behind me who passed away during his treatments. That fact that I came out the other side and that my family got to experience this with me, it just made me more aware and appreciative. It made me value my life a lot more.”
Brodasa is attending college for nursing and plans to become a pediatric oncology nurse. Her dream is to follow her passion of travel and go to different countries.
Now 19-years-old, Brodasa won’t forget these moments of impact and connecting with others. The moments of care from her nurses, the kisses from the dolphins or sitting in the captain’s chair; the view ahead of her stretching wide, resembling what’s to come.