There is a little girl…

There is a little girl who is vibrant and brave. She loves ballet and princesses, especially Rapunzel. She loves to play with her friends, swim, be silly and smile. She really loves to smile. Her smile is beautiful and infectious and inspires me to be brave, because she is.

This little girl could be anyone’s daughter; she loves much of what many little girls love. And she could easily be mine.

Many times over the last eight months, I have noticed similarities in this little  girl with my daughter yet I pushed those thoughts away out of fear. Fear that any day, I could learn that my daughter also had Ewing’s Sarcoma or some other cancer or illness. I have always kept this sweet girl and her family in my thoughts and prayers, knowing her mother from childhood. I donated money online and read her updates. But, there was fear holding me back from fully feeling my pain for this adorable and brave girl, until a night recently when I was lying in bed with my daughter rubbing her hair.

Hair…how can hair come to signify so much? Yet it does. Rubbing my daughter’s hair watching her rest peacefully, a wave of gratitude washed over me that my daughter has healthy hair. That she is lying in her bed with a full belly resting peacefully while I can smooth her shiny strands. That she can go to school, play with her friends, and get sick without worrying too much about the serious effect a cold might have. There are no guarantees in life and an illness could show up on our doorstep at any moment as it did for Carolyn and her family.

While on vacation with her family in May, Carolyn Hendrix began complaining of a stomach ache. The day after she returned home, her parents took her to her pediatrician who, suspecting appendicitis, sent her for a CT scan. The scan revealed a cancerous tumor around her rib (11 and 12) and pushing against the liver and kidney. The tumor was later diagnosed as Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer that occurs either in or around the bones.
Carolyn now had 3 months of chemo followed by tumor removal. Then another 6 months of chemo. Carolyn has been accepted into a trial for Ewing’s and is taking an extra chemo of Topotecan.
Ewing’s Sarcoma affects approximately 250 children and adolescents each year. Typically it is found more in males than females and in children who are between the ages of 5-20 years old. While Carolyn was fortunate that her cancer was discovered in stage 1, her treatment will require nine months of inpatient five-day chemotherapy every two weeks. She will have the tumor surgically removed one third of the way through her chemotherapy treatment plan.

I recently emailed her mom to ask how I could help. I’ve seen many pictures of Carolyn playing with friends at the hospital and thought that toys were one small way we could bring happiness to her. I had not shared Carolyn’s story with my daughter yet, primarily out of fear and wanting to protect my daughter from her own fears. Then I realized that this little girl deserves to have not only the support of adults, she needs the prayers, love and innocent positive energy of children too. After telling my daughter about Carolyn, I could see that it affected her and she wanted to “make Carolyn happy”. I could sense that she held back tears and seemed most concerned about Carolyn’s hair.

We then went through the abundance of toys my daughter owns and sorted through things she thought the girls in the hospital would like because as I told her, “honey, they are just like you, they like what you like”. After accumulating a pile of Barbies and other small princess-ish toys, we bought a couple new things as well because it was Carolyn’s 5th birthday too.

She also need platelets. There can not possibly be an easier thing to share than our blood. I will be getting my blood test done this week and learn if I am a candidate for a platelet donation.  Why didn’t I do this sooner? Fear. But it is not fair or right to allow my fear to hold me back when she bravely moves forward despite the many fears she and her family must tackle daily.

We cannot control what happens in life; we can only strive to make it better. Living in fear will not ward off the inevitable, but sharing positivity and compassion can make the inevitable much easier to bear; and what a better world to live in where people reach out to each other. I wish I could do more and hope that my small bit helps.

I want to inspire everyone to reach out to this little girl, she could be mine and she could be yours. There needs to be more funding to support research to develop new chemo-therapies designed for children; to help find better treatments and very importantly, to help her family with the overwhelming costs of treatment.

If you can help, please do; read through Carolyn’s web sitebuy her bracelets and share pictures of you wearing them to spread awareness, like her Facebook page, donate money, donate platelets, donate toys and most importantly, keep her in your thoughts as she gets closer to the finish line of her treatment.

There is a little girl who is vibrant and brave. And she loves to smile. I hope her smile washes away your fear as it has mine.

Carolyn

28 thoughts on “There is a little girl…

  1. As a mom, this scares me so very much. But what a very healthy way you are dealing with it – I love that you are participating and being there for Carolyn and her family, and I’m so very proud of you for checking to see if your blood is compatible.

  2. This is such a great example of the small ways we can use our talents to help others. Sadly, I have known this fear and helplessness while simultaneously feeling thankful at the mere sight of my children after having two friends lose children of their own. I know that both of them expressed the healing that comes with the overwhelming love and support they felt from people they knew, and you are obviously doing that for your friend right now.

  3. Poor little princess. Lovely post, Kerry. I love your articulation of fear and how it shouldn’t hold us back. It is so true. I’ve never donated blood because I am terrified and yet I received transfusions after my car accident so REALLY should. I’m going to change that now. X

  4. i am up sometimes in bed counting how many more months she has until she is done- it bugs me, i get actually angry. I get angry at God for diseases like this. I hate writing it down but it’s the truth. she reminds me a lot of my little raqui, both little peanuts. she is very brave and very tough and she’s too small to have to deal with seeing fear in her parents eyes, the shots, the ports the transfusions, understanding why she has to go through this and why she had to get sick. i only hope that resilience is something that we all have to learn and the children who go through this rise to the occasion and find that they are strong so that when they continue to grow up they remember their strength and draw on it. I hope they forget most of the pain they endured. ugh but it doesn’t make any sense. it’s what makes faith hard
    .

    • your comment gave me goosebumps and tears. It absolutely is what makes faith hard and like John said the other night as a joke on that comment thread maybe even wanting to curse the universe for allowing it. She is too small to have to endure any of it but she has some serious power and this girl will move mountains one day.

  5. Many years ago we lost a very close friend of the family to Leukemia. She was diagnosed at 16 and fought hard for 10 years before finally succumbing to the disease. As soon as Suzie was diagnosed, we got tested for bone marrow matches. Unfortunately no one in her extended family or the hundreds of friends were a match for Suzie, but the gift she gave was that we are now on the International Bone Marrow registry. Getting tested is so easy (no longer requires a blood test; just a mouth swab…), and the upside is huge: you could save a life.

    Kerry, thank you for sharing Carolyn’s story. She is in my thoughts. Please send my well wishes to her and her family.

    Bless.

  6. Kerry, thank you for writing about her and you do it so well! Very inspiring and you are right, fear cripples us, and we need to remember how fearful they must be, and we have so much we can give.

    • It is truly my pleasure and the very least I can do. If this post raises awareness, money, blood, toys or anything else, then it will have been worth it. Thank you for reading. She is a special girl and so is her family.

  7. Illness in children is quite literally one of the most frightening experiences of parenthood. The amazing bit is how resilient children are. My kiddos are too young to really know what is going on, but you can see on that little girl’s face, that she is facing her illness with the positivity that only a child can. They are lucky to have you in their lives. The only way to survive these experiences is through the support of others. It really makes all the difference.

  8. You are an inspiration for sharing this- thank you. I have two girls, and these are the thoughts that are incomprehensible to us as mothers. The urge to look away and protect ourselves (from what??) is so strong. Beautiful post.

    • Thank you so much. It is the very least I can do. Especially since I am not a platelet candidate! 😉 That urge to look away out of fear is strong but once I realized how unfair that is, it helped me to face it and do something. Thank you for reading. xo

  9. I wanted to comment on this, but there’s nothing to say. A cure for cancer may happen, we may even see it in our lifetimes, but what I really hope for are some better treatment options. Some that some without the debilitating side effects that chemo and radiation have. I hope so. It will be too late for my sister, no doubt, but for my children’s children, my sisters children, I have hope.

  10. Pingback: Lighthouse and Liebster | Winding Road

  11. What a story… it made me cry. The truth, so beautifully expressed by you, is that fear of similar things happening to us or our loved ones sometimes causes us to distance ourselves from their situations. We do what must be done, say the right things…. but often simply cannot take the extra steps we would if fear didn’t hold us hostage.

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s a lesson for all of us.

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