Basketball Vs Cancer ( Don’t be a quitter).!(Part- II)
Prologue-: Time was running short for Adam but he decided to fight in the basketball court, not in the hospital. Newgentown supporting don’t be a quitter spirit of every cancer patient across the globe. This is the final part of the story by our guest writer Mohamad Safieddin. You can read his bio at the end.
Don’t be a quitter
After saying goodbye to everyone, Adam’s family drove their car to the Blue County to start a new life with new people and new adventures. There, Adam tried to adapt and be part of the community. He worked hard to help the people and fulfill his goals and dreams.
The Blue County does not differ from its neighbor, the Yellow County. Similar centers, schools, hospitals, and teams exist but some of them vary in the types of services they offer.
The major difference is the committees that govern this County. In the Yellow County, where Adam came from, the committees are in the hands of the wealthy and those people with good connections. In the Blue County, however, the members of each of the committees are elected systematically and those elected are the ones who work hard and for the benefit of the county.
Their primary aim is to strengthen the effective and efficient participation of everyone and especially those who put the interest of the County before their personal interests.
The Blue County is also known for the hospitality of its people. Upon their arrival, Adam and his parents were greatly welcomed.
The system and lifestyle in the new county suited Adam, where he adapted faster than expected.The first thing he did was to volunteer at the cancer center where he was admitted for treatment.
To him, he is there to get the best treatment possible, but at the same time, he can be readily available to give the help and support that the staff and patients need.
Words about Adam’s hard work and impulsive participation in helping the ill children at the center circulated rapidly in the county. He was the inspiration and motivation they needed.
He helped some in taking their medications, played with others, drew a smile on many children’s faces, and inspired almost all of them to fight their disease and have the courage to continue their lives despite their suffering. In the new center, he did what he talked about during the Yellow County Council’s last meeting.
He arranged different kinds of trips to allow the children to participate in different kinds of activities: playing basketball, acting in a funny play, saying funny jokes, playing some music, going to the mall, having dinner together, and going to parks.
Also, Adam played a role in improving the center’s situation by fundraising campaigns, such as bake sales and dinners, where all the preparations were the result of the hard work of Adam and the children from the center.
Parents coming to check on their children noticed and felt the difference. Their children now are active, playing, practicing their hobbies and talents, and helping one another. The center turned into a house of talents and not a center for treatment.
All these and everything that happened didn’t make Adam forget his goal of striving to introduce into the school curriculum a system that encourages others to participate in community work.
Adam took an appointment from the Blue County’s Council to present his proposal. On that day, Adam presented the same speech he did in the Yellow County. This time, however, he received a positive response whereby the members of the Council were attentive and showed interest.
Chairman of the Council: “Mr. Adam, what you are suggesting is interesting, and if implemented, then everyone will receive the help that they need. Our children, who are our future, will become helpful and supportive, and our community will get out of its individualistic mentality.”
Adam: “Thank You, Ma’am”Chairman of the Council: “We will study your proposal and will get back to you soon.”
Adam: “Thank you for your time.”After a sigh, Adam left with relief and was full of hope that his idea might finally come into fruition.
It was a sunny day when Adam met Coach Raymond. On that day, Adam and some children from the cancer center had gone to the park to play basketball. Throughout all the game, Raymond kept an eye on Adam, saying to himself, ‘this kid is amazing, good aiming and shooting especially from the 3 points line’.
Raymond was there with his son whom he was teaching how to play basketball.
Adam to Raymond (after their ball mistakenly shot towards the coach and his son): “Hi sir, can you pass us our ball please?” Raymond: “Sure.”
Raymond’s son: “Dad, dad can I play with them?” Raymond: “Well you have to ask them if you can join.”
Raymond’s son: “Sorry sir, can I play with you?”
Adam with a smile: “Yes sure.”
Raymond’s son: “But I don’t know how to play.”
Adam: “It’s ok I can teach you.”
During all this conversation, Raymond was observing Adam’s reactions and watching how Adam was teaching his son. In the end, he realized that he just found the missing player for his team. Blue County’s school had a weak team that every opponent beat, and for that, they had recently appointed a new coach, hoping that he can really build a team that can compete for titles.
Raymond: “What is your name?”
Raymond: “Well Adam, do you love basketball?” Adam: “No.” Raymond gazed with confusion. Adam: “I not only love it, but I also adore it! It is my passion!”
Raymond: “Do u mind passing by my office tomorrow? Oh, sorry for my disrespectful manner. I am coach Raymond by the way.”
Adam: “Nice to meet you, coach. Yes, sure. What time?”
And that is what Adam did the next day in the afternoon. He knocked on the door and asked the coach if he could enter.
Raymond: “Yes, come in Adam and have a seat. As u can see, I am appointed the new coach of the school’s basketball team, and I want to build a new team, a team that is not like any other., a team that can compete and play with passion, a team with players who love basketball and are ready to give it their all for the County.”
Adam (with a smile on his face): “You got your first player.”
Raymond: “Yes, but I need you to help me find the others. You are a student and may know who can or can’t play, who wants or doesn’t want to play, and who loves or doesn’t love basketball.”
Adam: “It’s a tough job but I will try my best coach, yet I don’t promise you.”
Adam went out of the coach’s office with a smile on his face. He put a plan and began his search. Of course, he neither believed all of those who told him they loved basketball nor chose those who are the most popular students at the school. He went to the playground, watched students play, and assessed them day after day. In the end, Adam had his final list of potential players for the team.
Adam: “Here is the last coach of the players I see capable of making a good team.”
Raymond: “Mmmm. I don’t know them.”
Adam: “That is the point coach. These players will play for the team and not for their own benefit or for fame. They will play because they want to and love to do so.”
After the coach had his players, he embarked on the mission of building the school’s team and training the players as they don’t have much experience and the fitness needed to be on a team that competes in regional tournaments.
The training began, and the news started to fly across the school halls that a new team was founded and that the journey began. Of course, some parents brought their complaints to the attention of the sports administration office at the school and started asking for the reason behind not involving their famous sons in the school’s basketball team. But no one gave any importance to these complaints since the spirits and hopes of everyone in the county were high.
During the training sessions, Adam was the source of enthusiasm and motivation. Although it was a tough and long journey, the team grew stronger and developed the motto “Rise and rise again until lambs become lions” which Adam not only planted in their minds but also in their hearts.
The team was now ready to compete in the upcoming tournament.
The format of the tournament is simple.
There are 10 teams competing. Each team plays 18 games, 2 against each of the other teams. Of these 18 games, 9 are played on the team’s field and 9 on the opponents’ field. Then according to the table’s order, the top 4 teams which got the most number of points enter the playoffs.
The 1st among these 4 plays against the 4th and the 2nd against the 3rd and the winners of each game compete for the trophy. So far in the history of the tournament, the Yellow County’s school team has mostly won in the previous tournaments.
Although the Blue County school team did not have much time to prepare for the new season, the coach was optimistic and believed that his team can finish in the top 4.
The tournament kicked off two weeks after the team has started its preparations.
The team lost its opening game. However, week after week, game after game, the popularity of the team increased, reaching the game of the season that would identify the standing of the team in the semi-finals. The audience is frantic and so excited. In that game, the Blue County’s team which is now in the 5th place is going to compete with the team that is in the 4th place. All that the team wants is to win the game to secure a place in the semi-finals.
The1st and the 2nd quarters ended dramatically with the Blue County’s team 11 points behind. This difference increased to 15 points at the end of the 3rd quarter. At that moment, many people thought that the dream was over, and it is time to face the reality that Blue County’s team will never reach what is called the semis or the final.
However, in the 4thquarter, it was different; a different team with a different spirit was playing on the field. The team converted the loss of 15 points to a win with a score difference of 20 points.
It was Adam, as always, who fired the players during the timeouts, charged them with the ecstasy needed to go back to the game full of energy and enthusiasm. That night was historic. All the people went celebrating “We reached the semis… We can do this… We can win it”. As always, at the end of every game, Adam went back to the center to sleep beside his ill friends, not knowing, if tomorrow will ever come. Since the start of the tournament and week after week, the team got stronger, gaining its strength from the spirit of its players and their hard work.
However, this had exhausted one of its key players, Adam. His condition got worse after each week and after every game. He had to rest. Instead, he exhausted himself for a higher cause and a mission he believed he had to accomplish. He believed that he cannot turn his back on the people who welcomed him and his family with warm hearts and made them part of their community and families.
He refused to be the one who broke down their dreams after being the one who took part in creating these dreams and making these good people believe in their potential again. Another good news came the next day, as the Yellow County team lost its game and fell from being in the 1st place to end up in the 2nd place. This meant that the expected crucial game between the two counties will not take place unless both counties win their respective games in the semifinals and end up playing together in the final game.
The two weeks passed, and the smell of victory rose the day of the semifinal game, the night where the team will continue writing history or where dreams will fade away. Everybody got prepared, and as usual, the audience answered the call of the players and the coach for a huge presence in the field. Back in the locker rooms, this time was different. It was not a speech of enthusiasm that fueled the players.
All Adam said is that how proud he was to be the head of this team and of what they all have accomplished together. Under the applause and encouragement of the teams’ lovers, the game kicked off.
The Blue County’s team showed the hard, nice, and strong game during the 1sttwo quarters, whereby the opponents started to get discouraged and just could not believe that a team that was of no potential threat to them in the previous years heading to the final now. The 1sthalf (2 quarters) ended with the Blue County’s team leading the game.
Raymond (enthusing his players): “We should not lose our concentration, only minutes separates us from the final, let’s keep it up the same way we started.”
The 3rdquarter started to like its precedents, a good start.
However, when the time reached the end of the quarter, the unexpected happened! Adam fell on the floor not baring the pain of his kidneys. The game stopped with all the audience and players standing speechless and motionless.
The paramedics took Adam out of the field where everyone was stunned. “Is he going to be ok, is he dead, what happened”, and many other questions ran through the people’s minds. The opponents thought that the 4thquarter will be a piece of cake with the Blue County’s loss of one of its key players. Coach Raymond called for a timeout. Raymond: “Come on boys! It’s our time! It’s the time when we write our history! Let us do this for Adam!”Words that proved the opponents’ thoughts wrong.
Commentator (shouting): “Yes they did it! They won! They are going to the final!” The Blue County’s team won headed to the final to play against the Yellow County’s team.
Days past and nothing could have stopped the celebrations, except for the news of Adam entering the hospital due to an ailment only days before the final game. Many people of the BlueCounty gathered outside the hospital and under his room’s window, lighting candles, praying, and hoping that he gets better soon. Raymond: “How is he doctor?” Doctor: “Not much, he can’t continue playing.
He is exhausting himself, and that is bad for his health.” Lying down in his bed, Adam started talking to his parents. Adam: “I can’t continue. This is it. It ends here. My condition is getting worse.” Father: “It’s ok son, you did your best. We are proud of you.” Suddenly the door opened and all the kids from the center he volunteered in came to visit him, a gesture that brought tears to his eyes.
Adam could not accept the kids to see him in that condition. The person who inspired them taught them how to be strong, and how to face their pains and fears, is the one lying down not knowing what to do. One kid: “Are you going to play in the final?” Adam: “No dear, I can’t.” Kid: “But you told us to stand strong and overcome the obstacles no matter what they were, and to fulfill our dreams despite everything.”
Adam could not respond to the kid’s statement. However, this conversation was interrupted by an unexpected guest, John. John who had no hope and was dying, came back on a wheelchair to check on Adam. John: “Hey man”. Adam could not reply as he was in shock. Adam:” John you are still alive!
But they said…” John (interrupting Adam): “Yea yea, I was on the brink of death, but I didn’t die. I didn’t give up. Just like you told me!” Adam: “I… I don’t know what to say.” Adam was speechless all the time John talked to him. John:
“You didn’t answer the kid’s question. Are you going to play?” Adam: “No.” John: “You are not the Adam I know. You are not the guy who told me to never to give up, to never to quit, to fight back and be a fighter and not a quitter. Where did that Adam go? After all that you have done, you are now saying you can’t?! Did you look outside your window? Come and look.” Adam approached the window where the people cheered and applauded for him. Tears ran out of his eyes. He could not believes what he was seeing.
Almost all the citizens of the County were standing under his window. John: “Look at them! They love you, they believe in you, they have faith in you, and you are their hope. There will be no team without you, and you are saying that you can’t play! Do you want to quit now? At this time? Hell no! You are not the Adam that I know.” Adam: “But the team can’t depend on one player. I am just a player who’s going to expire soon.”
John: “Yes, for sure a team can’t revolve around one player. However, how will the others play while they are distracted? How will they play when all they are thinking about is the man who raised, helped, and inspired everyone? How will they play when they see that man thinking, talking, and behaving contrary to what they have been used to seeing?”
Adam’s teammates and the coach were in sorrow. When the doctor was on his way out of the hospital, everyone gathered around him to get reassured about one of their heroes. Doctor: “He will be fine.” Citizen: “Will Adam be able to play in the final?” The doctor left with no answer.
Raymond: “Hey kid! You frightened us. Don’t you do this again!” The coach tried to calm things down. Adam: “What did the doctor tell you? Am I going to play?” Coach: “No kid you can’t. You have to get some rest now. You did your job. It’s time for you to relax. We will announce the news tomorrow at a press conference. Do you want to be there?” Adam nodded with a yes.
That night was tough on Adam who could not sleep and could not stops thinking of John and his words, the people he saw, and all those who visited him. Adam left the hospital where all the people gathered to greet him for his courage. He saw the love and warmth of the people who came here to give him some hope, even though they were passing through hard times.
Raymond: “We are holding this press conference after many rumors around the participation and the health condition of Adam. Tomorrow the game will be close, tough, and strong. We will play with passion, strength, motivation, and determination that Adam taught us during every game and in our everyday life. As you all heard, Adam’s condition got worse during the season and because of that Adam will…”. The coach was going to announce Adam’s nonparticipation in the final when Adam interrupted with a shocking move. Adam (continuing the coach’s sentence):”…play in the game tomorrow.” Questions were raised by the reporters but Adam left the press conference leaving everyone in utter shock. The coach followed Adam to outside the room.
Raymond: “What are you doing? You can’t play! You are just not well!” Adam: “I will play coach. It can’t end this way. I will not let a disease step in our way. Through all my life I urged children to face their fears and illnesses and not to be afraid of death, and if they were going to die, I have always encouraged them to die as fighters. Now you want me to do the opposite! I will not let those people down.” Reporter: “Coach, tell us about your opinion of what we heard a while ago.” Coach of the Yellow County: “Well it’s a surprise. But the result tomorrow will not be. We will win as we always do. What we saw today proved to us that the disease affected him (Adam) not only physically but also mentally. We defeated that team at the beginning of the season and we will do that again. In the end, lambs can’t harm wolves.” The coach ended his talk with a smile. The day of the final game came to be sunny and everyone started preparing themselves for the game. This game will decide whether or not the dreams of the Blue County will come true.
The basketball field is full inside-out. All the restaurants, coffee shops, and pubs are full too. Everyone is waiting for the start of the game.
The wait ended with the first whistle of the referee who signaled for the start of the game. It started tense between the players. Attack for an attack.Point for a point.
The score was so close and always in a tie. The 1sttwo quarters ended in a tie. Through all the game, eyes were set on Adam who made an exceptional decision in playing despite his bad health condition.
However, he was playing the best game of the season. In the dressing room, although the Blue County’s team was doing a great job, complaints started to arise. One player said that the opponents were fast, another said that they were strong, a 3rdcomplained about the opponent’s good preparation for the game, and a 4thabout their good knowledge about this kind of situation.
The coach tried to calm his players and raise their spirits without success. Raymond: “Come on guys! We are creating history here. You don’t want to stop now! We are so close. Let us put our hands together and do this.” All put their hands except Adam. Raymond: “Adam why aren’t you putting your hand with us?” Adam: “Well coach, I don’t put my hand with quitters. I don’t put my hand with naggers. You all are complaining and forgot about the role that you have played so far in the tournament.
We are up to their level, fast like them, strong like them, and tough like them. You forgot all these things and you are complaining!
We are physically well prepared like the other team. However, we are different and special. How? We have the passion, the determination, and the will to win. We worked hard, we faced the toughest obstacles, and we defied the odds and reached this stage where no one believed we could. Do you want to go out there fearing them? while all through the game you were dominating them! Are you quitters?” All:
“No.” Adam: “Are you lambs as they described us?” All (shouting): “No.” Adam: “‘Rise and rise again until lambs become lions’… Now you will be lambs or lions? fighters or losers? Are you ready to finish what we started?” All (shouting): “Yes”. Adam: “Let’s go out there and finish this chapter of our history!” All (screaming): “Yea!!” The team screamed and gathered to motivate themselves with the word “Lions” on the count of 3. Adam and his teammates continued the game with a high level of discipline and determination.
They locked the middle of the court, beleaguered their opponents in their own half court, and started pressuring them. Attack after attack the Blue County’s team dominated their opponents and controlled the game. Mark (Commentator 1): “The ball reaches Adam, who shoots from the 3 points line! Ohhh it is out! Maybe luck wanted to stand with the Yellow County a little bit.” Zack (Commentator 2): “Well Mark doesn’t forget that this is a huge game Adam is playing! Despite his illness and all the pain, he is in, and he is here with his friend’s side by side.
He said yesterday in the press conference he is here for the people who stood by him, believed in the team, and supported them all the way till now. He can’t turn his back on them, he said ‘we gave our people something to dream of’. Look at him! During the whole game, his hand is on his waist.
Also, one can clearly see the signs of pain on his face. Despite all this, he is here doing a great job.” Mark: “Yes, maybe luck turned against them now, Adam never missed a shot from the 3 points line.” The siege continued, the ball circulated and the Blue County’s team tried to build another attack, and to make the ball reach Adam. However, Adam stopped moving and kneeled to the ground from the excruciating pain.
Antony from the Yellow County’s team cut the ball. Mark: “Antony gets the ball, and starts a counter-attack after all that pressure. He passes by Adam, who is on the ground, heads to the net.
No one is in his way! and he scoooooores! The Yellow County takes the lead by 2 points only! Zack, Adam is not feeling well and maybe he will cost his team the title just 10 seconds before the end of the game.” Zack: “Well Mark, after all, this should be expected. However, Antony could have stopped the game for the sake of checking on Adam, but of course, there is a title on the line.” Mark: “Yes, he deserves that applause. What a player! Despite his illness and the tough game conditions, he is still fighting and still defending even better than a healthy person.”
But Adam was barely standing and the pain signs were obvious on his face. Zack: “Oh my god Adam falls down!” And everyone in the audience went into silence. The sound of their heartbeats could be heard. Tears began to fall from some people’s eyes. Some cried, some prayed, some shouted for Adam to get up get up, and some shouted:” you can do this”.
Everyone in the stadium, behind TVs, in the centers, hospitals, malls, and in the yards stood up with hope. But it is not Adam who falls and does not stand back, it is not Adam who surrenders without a fight. It was only moments when the whole audience screamed with joy.
Adam stood up to continue the game! Throughout the game, Adam tried to hide some of the symptoms of his disease and suffering.
This manifested through the nosebleed that he was having and through the blood that was running out of his mouth. One could tell that he was feeling weak with no more energy to spend.
But he did not quit at that point in time, and he kept playing despite everything by wiping the blood and enduring his weaknesses. Mark: “Yes, he deserves this applause. But there is still 10 seconds for the end of the game and the Blue County’s team is now down by 2 points.” Zack: “We should wait and see if they can respond to Antony’s counterattack.
Here we go, the defender is behind the line trying to get the ball to any of his teammates despite the opponent’s huge pressure. It’s inside the field now and the audience started to countdown!
The ball is circulating and now it reaches Adam! Behind the 3 points line!” Mark: “But I think he is a bit far. 2 seconds left and Adam shoots!!” The ball left Adams’ hands and rose in the air. So did the people who stood to wait for the fate of this shot. Some hearts skipped a beat and some beat 100s of beats in those 2 seconds. If it gets in, the Blue County’s team wins. But if it does not, the opponents win. Zack: “The ball hits the ring! And now the board! And…Ooohh!“ Silence Zack (screaming): “No! Adam missed! Unbelievable”
Mark(shouting): “What an epic night! The Blue County’s team was close! Came out of nowhere, and reached the finals for the first time! These young players, despite their lack of experience, are here now, at the finals! No one will talk about the winner more than about this team.” That shot caused an unprecedented silence in the stadium. No one believed what happened.
Hugs, tears, shocked faces, and sadness filled the field and the Blue County as a whole. Every single supporter the Blue County’s team stood not believing, except for one, Adam. During all this, Adam crawled down to the locker rooms, got dressed, and left.
No one noticed Adam’s absence except for his friend John, who was always watching him closely.
John followed Adam to his destination and it was the hospital where he went to rest, in peace.
John stood outside Adam’s room with tears in his eyes as he knew that it was the end of the journey.
John: “So long my friend, goodbye, have a safe trip buddy. You had a long, draining, and exhausting journey. Rest now, you made the impossible achievable.”
When John was leaving, the doctor stopped and gave him a letter that Adam wrote the night before the final game.
” Dear John,
I write you this letter and no one else, as you are the only one to keep this secret. My condition is bad more than you can imagine. Tomorrow, we march to the final with high spirits and I am sure that we will win. I believe in my friends. However, there is a possibility that I won’t be able to make it to the end.
I am writing this letter to ask you for a favor. If we win or lose, and I die, please don’t tell anyone before 3 days. Tell them when everything settles down.
Thank you, my friend.
So long and goodbye”
Back in the locker rooms, the players sat with silence and sadness. Everything they did had evaporated in those two seconds. One player: “We lost, and we suck!” It was moments when another player asked about Adam. John broke the silence: “Adam is not here, he left.
To him what you lost today is only a trophy. But you are the winners. You won yourselves and your team.” Outside the stadium, it was a different situation. Once the team went out of their locker rooms to go to their bus, all the people applauded for them, hugged, and kissed them.
What the team did through all the season was exceptional, above all expectations, and more than what anyone can imagine. They… did… not… lose!
The Blue County decided to celebrate its accomplishment for 3 consecutive days, where a parade was scheduled for the last day. Preparations were made, huge balloons filled the sky, and all the people wore the team’s shirt. It all started at noon with the scout’s marching band playing music, clowns mingling in the middle, and the team’s bus with the players on the top of it holding their hands together and waving to the people.
After reaching the end of the road, a stage was set to welcome the players, where the mayor started calling their names for them to ascend to the stage. Each player was welcomed with applause from the present audience. However, the atmosphere started to change when the mayor called Adam’s name and he did not show up. Everyone started to ask about him and search for him when John went on the stage to tell the audience the painful truth.
John: “Three days ago, the Blue County lost. We lost the championship and lost its soul. Adam passed away.”
All the audience stood stunned and everyone started to whisper.
John: “Do not cry on him, but walk with pride. Do not say he’s gone, but keep him in your hearts and minds. Yesterday, the County’s committee voted to adopt the system that Adam was continuously supporting.
The system, where the school will be required for students to complete a certain number of community hours as part of its curriculum. Adam always wanted people to feel the beauty of helping others. And now it is the time to teach students how to give back to the community and how to become the future leaders that they are capable of being.”
The whole county gave tribute to Adam the next day, and the only word that ignited and fired up people’s feelings was that of Adam’s mother.
Mother: “Goodbye my son. I will not cry on your tears of sorrow but those of pride. It is bad that you are not here to witness the accomplishment of all what you thrived for. However, what you left for us exceeds a basketball game. You gave us hope, lightened our path, and taught us the meaning of tenderness, sacrifice, and love. You gave life another meaning. My son, you didn’t leave, you are still here with us, in our hearts and minds.
You will always be remembered because of your actions. Every child, male and female, youngster and grownup, is an Adam. And we will work and live like you. We will all keep your memory thriving with us!” Days passed, and no one ever forgot what had happened that specific year.
A few years later, and in his memory, the County council agreed to build Adam’s statue at the entrance of the Blue County’s basketball field to honor him on the date that coincided with the County’s win of the championship the year after Adam’s death.
That was not all. Adam’s parents received an invitation from the Council of the Yellow County to attend and witness the ceremony of the signing of their approval on the new law that stated that students have to fulfill a certain number of community hours as part of their curriculum.
To read the first part of Basketball Vs Cancer(Don’t be a quitter)! Please refer to the Guest Writer stories category.
Bio of Mohamad-:
I am a graduate in BS in Business Admiration and MBA degrees. Flown to Lille, France to pursue PhD degree. Two things fall behind my motivation to write short stories. First, there is no better way for your voice and thoughts to be heard other than putting them in words (articles, stories, etc…). Second, many people, especially with special needs (disabled, have cancer, mental illness, etc…) are misperceived and faced with sympathy.I took the road less taken. I intended to put my thoughts and beliefs into fiction short stories to show that those people don’t need sympathy, but need support through motivation and inspiration of what they can do, despite their differences.