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Interview with Elissa Adams

Adams, Elissa
Barefoot, Jamie
Date of Interview: 
Overcoming obstacles; Stories and storytellers
Elissa Adams talks about her miraculous recovery from leukemia, which is a favorite story her family enjoys telling.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Jamie Barefoot interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
JB(Jamie Barefoot): All right, this is Elissa Adams and Elissa, you've lived in Charlotte for--
EA (Elissa Adams): Five years.
JB: Five years. OK. Um. First thing I want to ask is if you remember any books that you read as a child um, or either books that were read to you either by a teacher or your parents or grandparents that you really remember enjoying. Is there anything in particular that comes to mind?
EA: No.
JB: Nothing. OK. Um. How about stories, that uh, you didn't read or weren't read to you, but stories, you know how people come up with stories, I mean, is there any, were there any particular stories that people told you that you really liked hearing when you were growing up?
EA: [Pause] Not that I can remember, no, uh uh.
JB: OK. Um. How about when you were in school? Everybody has to read stuff in school. Do you remember anything that, um, I mean, there are always books that I liked, I always had to read everything but uh, there were certain things that I liked more than others, do remember anything you liked in particular, um, about stuff you had to read maybe in your English class or um, things like that?
EA: Nothing. Nothing I re, that I recall. No. Not really.
JB: No?
EA: Not really.
JB: OK. Um. Well, what about now, like um, Thanksgiving's coming up, and families get together for that and for Christmas when, when you are um, you know eating dinner, or you know, just talking and everything. Are there particular stories either, either family stories that you might tell or stories about, um, you know things that have happened to people in the past? Or maybe stories that, you know, some people just make up stories to tell. Are there any particular stories that your family tells now?
EA: Oh. Lot of times we just sit around and just reminisce and go back to the time when we were growing up. [Pause] Family, um. [Pause] Um. Anything in particular?
JB: Well, do you remember one of those particular stories that um, might come up when you're just sitting around reminiscing?
EA: Well, a lot of times we had company over. Um, I guess the time when I was four.
JB: Hum?
EA: Uh, my mom took me for a it, um, doctor's visit uh, it was a physical. The doctor got, did some tests and uh, done some tests. He dia, diagnosed me as having acute leukemia and um, this was when I lived back in Raleigh. And uh, Momma and I took trips back and forth to Chapel Hill and went through a couple of treatments and uh, you know, uh, ( ) uh, I had, had to have different shots each time I went back.
JB: Uh-huh.
EA: It was, and the little I remember, Momma telling me on the way, you know, just little things I don't know really, let me think now. Um. [Pause] I guess I was in a wing of the hospital where five or six other children in that whole wing of the hospital, well, in that, that wing and everybody went through the same treatments.
JB: Uh-huh.
EA: And uh. [Pause] Uh, let's see. Turned out after all the treatments were done, I was the only survivor in the particular wing of the hospital. Well, you know, to this day every now and then that particular story comes up every now and then.
JB: So, when, when that comes up, does, is your mom primarily the one who would tell it or your dad?
EA: Both.
JB: Either?
EA: Actually, my sister wrote a story on it.
JB: Oh really?
EA: And I have it back in my room. It's just one of those things that you know, you just don't think people want to hear much about these days. It's just one of those things, you know that happened. And it was one afternoon I was out playing on the uh, sidewalk and uh Mom was, Mom was in the kitchen doing something and I was, I guess pretending to act like a salesman and I went up to the front door and rang the doorbell. And Mom came to the door and uh, she saw like this glow of light all around me as if the Lord had definitely cured me of leukemia. No more treatments, no more. [Pause] What do you call it? Um. [Pause] Nothing more. Actually, I went back to see my doctor and when I, everything you know was fine. Nothing, you know, nothing more to do. He knew right then that it was a miracle, miracle child.
JB: Would you say that um, your mom or you dad or whoever is telling the story, tells that part of the story, the, the last part when you came to the door and she saw the glow of light, would you say that they tell that part of the story more than any other part or do they tell the whole thing from beginning to end?
EA: Beginning to end.
JB: OK. What, you said that you were four?
EA: Four.
JB: And I'm sure you remember parts of it. Um, do you remember everything that your mom, like when she's telling the story, do you remember everything she tells or is some of it you remember and some of it you don't?
EA: I pretty much remember the whole thing.
JB: The whole thing?
EA: I was old enough at the time that I knew what was going on.
JB: Yeah.
EA: And uh, I remember exactly going to the hospital and the uh, waiting room, but um, yeah, it's just something you don't know anybody goes through. It was a very interesting experience.
JB: Do you ever tell this story yourself? Obviously you're telling it to me.
EA: I have told it to several other people, like my co-workers and to this day they can't believe it, they would have never known.
JB: Uh-huh.
EA: Well, you, people don't know unless I share it with them.
JB: Right.
EA: The Lord helped me for a reason. I was on this earth you know, I've lived on this earth for some reason, I just don't know what it is yet. [Laughter]
JB: Um-huh. [Laughter] Well, as far as being a story, this is not an ordinary story that every family tells, obviously some do, um, is it something that comes up a lot or is it you know, something that your family doesn't talk about a lot or is it something that comes up on a pretty regular basis?
EA: Maybe once in a while.
JB: Once in a while. OK, well um, are there any particular stories related to this or anything else you enjoy reading now or um, I mean, is there anything looking at what you experienced, is there anything, any type of stories that you like to read now or that you like to hear about now? Maybe other people who survived leukemia or other diseases that you know were life threatening like that or I mean, do you ever try to find out other people's experiences?
EA: I do enjoy reading the um, stories related to Guideposts or uh, what's another, Reader's Digest, they come in. [Phone ringing] ( ) When cancer comes up I'm just pretty, pretty interested in it, to find out what they went through and I can relate to it. Other than that, I get more out of reading Reader's Digest or Guide, Guideposts stories.
JB: Um, OK. Well thank you very much and thank you for sharing your story with me.
EA: Oh, you're welcome.