A mother who saw her young daughter through a battle with cancer shares how little things can make a big difference for kids with serious illnesses.
- Posted on Mar 24, 2017
Other kids were starting kindergarten. My daughter, Kaylee, was starting chemotherapy, one of six grueling rounds she underwent after being diagnosed with neuroblastoma at age four. Doctors said she had a 20 to 30 percent chance of surviving.
“That’s a number,” I said. “That’s not my daughter.”
My husband, Jamie, and I prayed for guidance and opted for an aggressive treatment at the Cleveland Clinic.
We tried our best to keep things as normal as possible, but Kaylee didn’t understand what was happening. Whenever a nurse started an IV, Kaylee would ask why she had to get another “pokey.” Enter Miss Sarah, a child life specialist. She spent hours working with Kaylee. She explained things about cancer to Kaylee—and me—in terms she could understand. Miss Sarah became like a family member.
Inside was a journal for Kaylee to record her thoughts and dreams, a squishy blue ball, sticker pages and, best of all, a plush star named Sparkle.
As Kaylee began decorating pages with the stickers, I glimpsed the carefree child she used to be, the one I hoped she would someday be again.
Sparkle rarely left Kaylee’s side during her ordeal. When she had to stay overnight at the hospital, I would sleep in a cot next to her. If she got antsy, we would toss Sparkle back and forth, a good way for her to stay active.
Seven years later, Sparkle occupies a place of honor in Kaylee’s room at home. Kaylee is 11, in remission and as carefree as ever. She doesn’t remember much from her time in the hospital, but I do. I remember a simple blue box and the hope it brought.