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Cancer Cuts a Childhood Friendship Short, but Lessons Last

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Lucas Tran is a senior at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco. He poses in his scouting uniform. He's working towards an Eagle Scout rank.  (Courtesy Lucas Tran)

Lucas Tran, 17, is a senior at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco. He spends a lot of his free time on expeditions with the Boy Scouts. He's currently working toward the Eagle Scout rank, the highest achievement in the Boy Scouts. When he first joined, however, he wasn't too excited about the program. It took a meaningful friendship to draw him into the Boy Scouts. In the end, the friendships he made through the program gave him much more than an outdoor education. Lucas' story is part of KQED's Youth Takeover Week.

We all have objects, people or events that change who we are as a person. Whether that's winning a competition, meeting the love of your life or joining a gang. Whether it's good or bad, it shapes us into who we are today.

The smell of freshly cut grass, the sounds of birds chirping and the sight of Scouts of all ages. When I first joined the Cub Scouts, I was shy, quiet and lonely. I didn't talk to anyone, and didn't like being there in general. Being forced to go there every week was hell for a 6 year old. It was like this for months, until one day a random friendly face invited me to play dodgeball.

Little did I know it, but that one gesture would change my life forever.

Lucas Tran (back row in sunglasses) and Scout Crew 216 canoe camping at Utica Reservoir in 2017.
Lucas Tran (back row in sunglasses) and Scout Crew 216 canoe camping at Utica Reservoir in 2017. (Courtesy Lucas Tran)

Andy took me under his wing. Because of him, I opened up and became more social. We became best friends that couldn't be separated.

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Slowly, he started showing up less and less, and eventually he stopped coming altogether. I moved up to Boy Scouts without him, and pushed through the ranks and positions. Days turns into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years.

One day I got an email asking me to go visit him. The skinny energetic kid I once knew was now a round, bald kid stuck in a wheelchair. He was diagnosed with brain cancer and had been dealing with it for years.

His eyes lit up when I saw him for the first time. I stayed with him for hours, talking about the past, the present and the future. Eventually, it was getting late and I had to leave.

This process repeated over the weeks even after he was allowed back home. He always made time for me, just how I always made time for him.

One day while visiting him, we were all playing games when he fell asleep, which was pretty normal. In his state, just staying up used up a lot of energy. After he was tucked in, his family and I talked for a bit and had dinner. I left without saying goodbye because I was coming back tomorrow just like every weekend.

He passed away in his sleep the night I left without saying goodbye.

The funeral was held a few days later. Everyone I knew was there. We all had hoped for him to make a recovery -- to be one of the lucky ones, and to be happy. But sometimes, bad things happen so we can learn.

With a lot of time and support, I got through this very tough time. Even when he passed, he taught me things about my life. He taught me to enjoy life and to stay positive. But most importantly, Andy taught me to never take things for granted. Enjoy what you have right now because you never truly appreciate it until it's gone. It could slip through your fingers at any moment and change your life for the worse, or for the better.

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