I’m four now. I turned it just before summer again. Mommy and daddy had a real fun birthday for me this year. I got to ride in a real princess carriage! They said it was a big celebration of my life because of the rock that came out at Christmas. I didn’t really understand why people still talked about the rock being gone and why that made them happy. Until it came back. Then mommy explained it all.
Mommy said she didn’t know how rocks got inside of you or why they only grew in some people. But the pictures they were taking to check on it showed it was there again. I said they should just cut it out but she said it was too big this time. She said that I would have to do lots of medicines called chemo to make it smaller and then they could try to cut it out. She also said that there were other rocks this time too. Tiny ones that were other places in like in my leg and back. When her and daddy told Carter and I about it I could tell they were real scared. But they weren’t crying as much as the first time. They said that I was going to have to stay in the hospital a lot, one that was real far away from our house. But they said that mommy was going to quit her job at the church so I wouldn’tbe alone. Daddy was going to keep working and stay home with Carter so he was never alone either.
Mommy cut all her hair off because she said my hair was going to all come out. I really didn’t understand how a medicine that makes rocks tiny can make your hair fall out. But mommy said she just wanted me to know that we didn’t have to have hair to be pretty. I thought it looked kinda weird instead of pretty but I didn’t tell her. The saddest part to me was that mommy said I couldn’t go to preschool at the end of the summer. We had just been working on learning my letters and I really wanted to go. Carter got to go for two years and he was getting to go to kindergarten after the summer. But mommy said I would be in the hospital too much. She said we could still work on my letters in the hospital. I cried but not too much because I could tell it was making everyone else sad.
When we got to the hosptial to start the chemo the first thing they did was surgery to put in a line. You had to have a line so they could get the chemo in your blood. I didn’t like the lines (there were two) or that they were covered up with sticky plastic on my chest. Mommy asked the nurse about the sticky plastic and she said it would have to be there all the time. She said it was called a dressing and it kept out the germs. The lines hung all the way down to my belly button. The nurse said I would have to be real careful not to let them get caught on anything. The worst part about the line was that I couldn’t go swimming or even take a bath and those were two of my favorite things.
When the nurses brought the chemo in for the first time they were wearing paper gowns like that time people took the rock out. They wore hats and masks and gloves. They even wore special glasses to cover their eyes. It seemed like they were afraid to touch the chemo. I thought maybe if they touched it their hair would fall out. The chemo was in a bag and they hung it on a pole next to my bed. It ran through some machine that beeped a lot called a pump. Then it hooked up to one of my lines. They couldn’t touch the end of my lines when they hooked it up, not even with their special gloves. They said I could get real sick if germs got inside. I didn’t really understand that because it seemed like I already was real sick. That was one of the confusing things about cancer: I didn’t feel real sick but everyone kept saying that I was.
We were only in the hospital a week that first time. I missed home and was happy about that. The thing is, as soon as we got home I started throwing up. I didn’t like it but mommy said it was okay. But then I got a fever and mommy said that was not okay. The fever meant we had to go back to the hospital and I was really mad about that. I didn’t want to be in a hospital room again and I didn’t want to be hooked up to a pole. I cried the whole way.
That time in the hospital I wasn’t even allowed to leave my room. The nurse said my counts were real low so I was in something called isolation. Counts are something in your body that make you strong. Some counts make blood and some counts fight germs but I didn’t have either. All the nurses had to wear a mask to protect me from their germs. I also had to get blood. That sounded gross to me but it wasn’t really. It was just a bag like chemo and it hung on the pole.
After another week we got to come home and mommy said we could cut off all my hair if I wanted. She said that I could let cancer take my hair away or I could do it myslef. Lots of it had already fallen out so I thought we probably should. I could hardly believe it when she handed me the scissors. I was nervous the first couple cuts but then I started laughing. When I was all done I showed mommy and daddy and they both smiled. Except I could tell they were crying right before I walked in. Daddy got out the shaver next and shaved the rest of it off to make it the same all over. I watched in the mirror and just smiled the whole time. I thought it was kinda fun.
That weekend I got to be in my friend Annie’s wedding. I wore a fancy white dress that matched hers and a viel. The veil covered up my head so I didn’t think anybody could see that I didn’t have hair. After a while the veil got real itchy so I took it off. Everyone said I was the most beautiful girl even without my hair. That night I dreamed about being a bride in my own fancy wedding dress. And I had hair.