Birds of a Feather

About a week ago I was scrolling Facebook, like you do. And I saw an ad for a bracelet on Amazon. It was an impulse buy. A silly click to give myself something for my birthday. Just a little bracelet that said, “She Believed She Could, So She Did.” I have it on a t-shirt. I sometimes write it on my wrist. It’s just a little reminder that I can do this. Even if the this is just life. I can do this.

Yesterday I saw a friend. Now, I didn’t actually KNOW this friend. But, I knew her. I knew what her life is kind of like. I knew some of what she was feeling and maybe understood her in a way that others didn’t. Outside of the restaurant I was having lunch at, was a lovely girl, about twelve just based on looks, who was clearly on chemotherapy. I recognized this girl because I’d seen it in my own mirror not so many years ago.

I always look beyond the bald head because some kids have alopecia and choose not to wear a prosthetic wig. I could see the edges of the tegaderm (medical tape) peaking out from the collar of her shirt. A sign of having an accessed line of some sort. I could see where her eyebrows and lashes, still hanging on, but were starting to thin. I knew this. Because I had lived it.

I was conscious of the fact that my friend wasn’t in school. This probably meant her counts (her ability to fight infection) was possibly compromised. I walked over, totally interrupted her lunch, and gave her my bracelet. It’s not because I’m a sweet person or anything like that. It’s because, while I didn’t know it originally, I had bought it for her.

This was my reminder that kids are living with cancer right now. Not just in my Facebook feed. This was my reminder that people like her need my stories. That I have a voice and stories and the ability to tell these stories.

I gave them my card and became friends with her mom on Facebook. I hope to see my friend again and to chat some more. Because we’re birds of a feather. We find each other in our storms.

September

Hello September!

On September 8, 1989 I turned nine-years-old. I was a having a t-shirt painting party/ 50’s sock hop. In other words, my four best friends and I wore poodle skirts while we painted t-shirts with awesome puff paint. I remember the party. What I also remember is going to the clinic that day to see if my white blood count (the bodies ability to fight infection) had recovered enough to have my friends over. Oh, and if there was a bed at the hospital available for my chemo that was supposed to start that night.

There were no beds, which I was thrilled with. I wanted my party. I remember the relief of not having to leave my party early to go and get checked in for five days of chemotherapy. I didn’t mind going to the hospital by that point. I had friends. There was Pam and Talley and Maria. But, I definitely wanted my painting/poodle skirt party more.

Saturday morning all of my friends were gone and I was watching cartoon and eating cereal when the phone rang to let us know that a bed was available. I checked into the hospital later that morning to start another round of chemo.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. I’ll probably spend some more time here talking about it. I talk about it because I can. I have words and memories and a lifetime of living with cancer. And until there’s a cure, I need to use those words to talk about it.