Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cheer Up! It Could Be Worse! Part 2

One of my New Year's resolutions is to make sure I update my blog at least once a week. We'll see how long it lasts.

Today's blog is going to be a bit different than the others. I'm going to dedicate it to a little girl I've never met and to her mom who (whom? I can't remember and I'm too lazy to look it up right now) I met briefly and who is one of the nicest people I've talked to in quite a while.

A few days before Christmas my sister told me about a family in her neighborhood who was going through one of the worst situations imaginable. Their 4 year old daughter had been complaining about a stomach ache for a week or so, so the mom took her to the doctor to see what was up. What should have been a run-of-the-mill trip (it's just a virus, nothing you can do, keep her hydrated and it'll go away) turned into a hellish nightmare that is just beginning to unfold.

After poking and prodding and testing, the doctor told the mom that her daughter likely had some kind of cancer and that it was probably at stage 4. The doctor wanted to arrange for Life Flight to pick up the girl to fly her to Primary Children's Hospital because the cancer appeared to have spread to her lung and he was worried about her breathing. So four days before Christmas this sweet family, whose lives had been pretty normal up to this point, found themselves flying to a hospital in a city several hours away so they could start fighting for their daughter's life.

It turns out this little girl has a form of kidney cancer known as Wilms Tumor. It has metastasized to one of her lungs along with other places in her abdomen. She is undergoing an aggressive 6 to 8 week course of chemotherapy, after which the doctors will reevaluate the situation to see if the tumors have shrunk enough that they can be safely removed. She could be in the hospital the entire time, depending on how she responds.

Kaitlyn had a doctor's appointment yesterday so we stopped at the PICU to take the girl a small gift. I spoke with her mom for quite a while, but instead of talking about how horrible her daughter's situation was or how stressful things were for her, she talked nonstop about how wonderful people had been to her family and how great the hospital was and how beautiful my daughter was and how kind we were to go up there to see them. Now I'm sure she has her moments when she falls apart, or at least I hope she allows herself to do that, but when I met her she was positive and kind and sweet and, most of all, GRATEFUL.

I truly believe that when you're given a challenge you're almost always strong enough to endure it. And sometimes enduring is all you can hope for, and to be honest, sometimes it's enough. But to be right in the middle of the trial and to be able to leave your self-pity long enough to not only be kind to a stranger, but also to show GRATITUDE, is pretty amazing.

So although I hate the phrase "it could be worse" more than I hate rude drivers, there are situations where it truly applies. This is one of them. As hard as our challenges are at times, I'd still take them gladly, over and over, if it meant I didn't have to go through the heartbreak this family is experiencing. And I know that at this point in my life I'm not even close to having the attitude this mom has. So thank you, Chandra, for sharing your beautiful daughter with me, and for allowing me to see what true kindness and gratitude look like.

Now I'd like to ask a favor. If you believe in prayer or positive thoughts or healing light or something I can't think of, please send some to this family. They have a long road ahead of them and can use all the strength and encouragement they can get.

You can follow their story here: