Back to school

Brianna Lamar is one of many 14-year-olds in North Texas who began their first week of high school on Monday. When I spoke with her a few weeks ago, she didn’t seem worried at all about the adjustment.

“I’m looking forward to it,” she said. “It’s going to be a little different, because I’m going to be doing a lot more. I’m going to have to balance out a way to be on the debate team, student council and band. And all of my classes except for two are going to be advanced placement.”

She wasn’t worried about fitting in. Or harder classes. Or growing up. She wasn’t worried about any of the typical things high school freshmen worry about.

What did worry Briana? Getting a scratch in PE. She’s HIV positive and has been since birth.

But there is a lot more to her than that, as you can tell by the excerpts from our conversation below. A full story on Briana will run in the September issue of Children’s Connect.

“I went to Camp Hope this summer. It’s a camp full of kids who have HIV. This was my seventh year to go. It’s pretty neat to see a bunch of kids just like me and make friends with them. We do outdoor stuff like canoeing, kayaking, riding bikes and going down a zip line. It’s a lot of fun. I’m sad, because next year will be my last year to be a camper.”

“I don’t think about HIV all of the time, but there are times when I do. I wonder what stage it’s in. I wonder how big it’s gotten. I wonder if my medicines are shrinking it any.”

“I call the people who don’t have HIV ‘The Normals.’ It takes them days and weeks to get sick. But for me, sickness can advance within a matter of minutes or hours. And if it lasts for days to weeks, that’s when it really gets a lot worse for me. That’s why I have to take my medicine every day.”

“There are two people that I consider my closest friends. You know, you tell somebody and they usually tell someone else. But I told them (about my condition), and they don’t tell anyone else unless they ask me first. They keep it to themselves, and they don’t threaten to tell other people if we get in an argument or anything. That’s what I really like about them. They’re the two most loyal friends I’ve had.”

“When I turn 16, I’ll have to get a job. I would love to intern at a veterinarian’s office. I’d just like to work with animals in any way possible.”

“I’ve already decided where I want to go to college: Texas A&M. They have a great veterinary program. For my undergrad degree, instead of doing it in 4 years, I’m going to do it in 2. And for my grad degree, instead of doing it in 4 years, I’m going to finish it in 2 also. And then I’ll have a 2-year internship with a vet. And then I’ll set up an animal sanctuary somewhere in the country in Montana. But not too far from the city.”

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