To Be Young and To Have Chemotherapy
Four days ago, I learned that my fifteen-year-old goddaughter has cancer. She is the daughter of one of my dearest friends, and she is one of my daughter’s best friends. Her mother and I have been friends for the last 28 years (and counting). Only one year apart in age, my daughter and my goddaughter have known each other since they were babies. Safe to say that our lives intertwine in many ways.
Four days ago, our lives took a sudden change and we are reeling from it.
My daughter and I were with the family when the oncologist first discussed the type of cancer, course of treatment, what to expect, etc. Hodgkin lymphoma, common among adolescents, very much treatable, chemotherapy and radiation. So many words, so many new realities that, from then on, would linger in my mind. Thankfully, the oncologist was very positive, encouraging everyone be positive and to take things one step, one day at a time.
Today, my goddaughter will have her first chemotherapy treatment. Although I am hopeful that her youth and her athletic background will help her cope well, I still worry that she will become so weak, so fragile, so unlike the strong and lively girl we know. And seeing her that way will break our hearts.
When the oncologist was talking about chemotherapy, one of the first things my goddaughter said was, “Will I lose my hair?” The doctor did say yes, but she quickly assured her that after all the treatment, her hair will grow back, and maybe even nicer than before. It suddenly hit me. Losing your hair, like losing your strength and your appetite, can be very traumatic. Suddenly, you look different, you feel different, your life becomes vastly different.
This passage was part of today’s Gospel reading:
“Even all the hairs on your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10: 30-31)
My goddaughter is definitely worth more than many sparrows. And I have faith that all the hairs on her head are counted, as each one falls off and as each one grows back, stronger and lovelier than before.