They say that humor can be great medicine and this rings true for 18-year-old Abigale Hamlin, a leukemia patient being treated in Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program. Abigale says that a good dose of laughter in her situation helps her to see and think of things in a different light.
Last year, when she first heard Chris Brown’s song featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes, “Look At Me Now,” her witty and creative nature took hold and her inner rapper emerged as she flowed to the beats with her own lyrics that described what she was going through, “Look at me now, look at me now, I’m losin’ hair-air, or I’m gettin’ che-mo.”
“I’m the kind of person who sings a song and puts my own words to it because I think it is funny,” says Abigale. “Then I thought, how funny would it be if I took the lyrics and made this song cool and funny in my own way!”
And with that, during her fourth round of chemotherapy treatment, she started writing her own parody version of the song and planned on creating a music video.
“I did the song and video to express what I am going through and who I am,” says Abigale. “People really don’t understand our situation and if you listen to the words, you can kind of understand what I’m going through and the environment I’m in.”
So what about the lyrics “Look at me now” struck a chord with Abigale? She said that losing her hair was the hardest obstacle and gaining back confidence was a major feat.
“One day I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror and then the next I was like ‘I don’t care what anyone thinks,’” says Abigale. “I want people to look at me now, not how I was, and to know that they don’t have to judge people.”
She said that people looked at her differently when she was in public after losing her hair. While it initially bothered her, she said that she has learned to adapt and to love who she is.
“I think people need to see patients like me and they need to be open to the population of kids and adults with cancer,” Abigale says.
In the spring of 2010, Abigale was an active teenager in Kennewick, Wash., who played sports and excelled at softball. One day she found herself short of breath and her back was hurting, but her doctor told her it was a pulled muscle. The morning of a doubleheader, she found it difficult to breath but she powered through the game, even hitting a triple. However, by the end of the game she was in tremendous pain so she went home and went to bed. After sleeping most the day, her mom noticed that she had red bumps covering her legs and she knew that something was wrong.
Her mom rushed her to the hospital where she was told she likely had leukemia and needed to fly to Seattle Children’s. Once she arrived at Children’s the diagnosis was confirmed. She has now undergone four rounds of chemo.
“You’re not expecting the worse but when they diagnosed me and told me I needed to go to Seattle I just said ‘Ok, let’s go,’” Abigale says. “That is just my thing – I laugh about it or just say Ok because it reassures me that things will be Ok.”