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I have never thought of leaving studies, especially during exams, to care for my brother Richard after him being diagnosed with cancer. Richard is the only family member I have after my parents died five years ago in a road crash. Richard started to smoke cigarettes before my parents died. I remember being called by our neighbor. “Hi, Peter! Please, report back home, your brother (Rich) needs to be cared for, He is in a coma”, said Kennedy. I was just about to begin my exams in my fourth year in high school.

Education was the only way through which I could become a meaningful person in the community. In addition, education would help me to take care of my ailing brother. I remember being called by various people claiming that Richard robed them of their cash to buy cigarettes. These events were so depressing. However, my education was not meant to provide more cigarettes to Richard. I would be able to understand the society better and help other colleagues who may be at risk of cigarette smoking. In addition, I had to find money for brother’s medication and upkeep. While on my way back home thoughts of how I would care for Richard, while at the same time reading for exams and being successful in school bothered me. Beside, I had no means for employing a caregiver for Richard.

Leaving school and not taking exams meant that I had to put on hold all my ambitions of becoming a doctor. I had to care for Richard. This is the only way to show love to my brother. My parents one day had discussed on the need to love the family members. “Your family members should be the only reason to work hard in life”, mother said while taking dinner. Studying or caring for my brother, which is more valuable? One day education would enable us to get basic needs we lacked; at the same time caring for Richard was prominent. I was totally confused.

While caring for Richard, I developed depression related illnesses that demanded immediate counseling and care from doctors. I could not have done my exams under this situation. How was I going to care for my brother while thinking about education and exams that were about to begin? Richard had become so emaciated and thin. He could not even dress up by himself. I had to do everything for him. The cancer had spread to almost every part of his lung; getting treatment would be impossible at this stage of illness.

I decided to take Richard to a nearby referral hospital. The first task I had to do was to call the medical team to help in taking my brother to the hospital. I called the number, the hospital management issued for emergency cases. When the medical team reached, there were several questions that I could not answer, considering that I was also undergoing depression and stress. The medical team managed to take Richard to the hospital and ensured that he received medical care.

Jane, one of the nurses, understood what I had to go through. She recommended counseling services be offered to me. Depression had affected my ability to do normal duties as well as take my studies at home. The counselor at the hospital managed to help me go through the depression. My good grades at school are dedicated to the counselor. Meanwhile, Richard has been given necessary care that the medical team could afford, considering that the cancer situation had taken long before being diagnosed.

I left Richard under the care of the medical team. However, I had to make pledges to find time to see Richard. So, I had to report back at school to take my exams. Leaving Richard in the hands of the medical team made me “cry” literally. I did not know what would happen to him in the near future. I reported to school with all the thoughts and emotions about Richard’s situation.

Back at school my teachers noticed my reluctance to take my studies seriously. They had to arrange for private meeting to learn the reasons behind my reluctance to study effectively. I had to explain every detail to my teachers to avoid being suspended or being stopped from taking exams; I needed to pass my exams more than anything else in life. In addition, my colleagues had also noticed my reluctance to socialize and engage in group discussions with them. In most cases I would seek for solitude. My teachers understood my situation and recommended that I should concentrate on studies. I was so grateful for advice I received from them. They changed my life. I passed all the exams. However, Richard’s medical situation still bothered me. I used to call the nurses to inquire on Richard health situation. Even though the medical team gave me a hope about Richard’s recovery, he later succumbed to cancer after 11 months in the intensive care unit. “Richard is no more”, said the nurse. It was so painful to lose a brother at the age of 20 years due to cigarette smoking addiction that led to cancer. Life had changed totally for me. I had to live for the rest of my life without any family member. Despite all these challenges, life had to go on.

From the moment Richard passed on I have continually viewed cigarettes as poison to human health; education would help me teach young adults about effects of cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking was the main cause of lung cancer to my brother. To all my friends at school: please, use your education to engage in campaigns against cigarette smoking in the society. We should leave the world a better place than we found it. 

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