Monday, June 14, 2010

When a little princess gets cancer

When Isabel was 3-years-old her parents attended one of my parenting classes. We discussed all the typical parenting challenges from tantrums to sibling fighting. Little did we know the heart wrenching parenting issues that lay ahead.

A year ago, shortly after turning 4-years-old, Isabel's knees started hurting. The first doctor thought it was a bruised knee. When the pain worsened, they took her to Children's Hospital where they learned she has Burkitts Leukemia.

She was immediately started on the first of nine rounds of chemotherapy. She spent 5-6 days in the hospital receiving each round of chemo plus had many pills to take at home. When her mom was at wits end trying to get Isabel to swallow one of her pills, she called me to see if I had any ideas. Yikes ... far outside my parenting expertise ... but perhaps she might swallow it along with some of my homemade plum jelly. I could offer jelly and emotional support. The jelly didn't work.

I got to know Isabel and her family over the 6 months of her treatment. Isabel's mom was at the hospital with her every step of the way. Her strength and ability to stay positive was truly inspirational.

Saturday Isabel celebrated her 5th birthday with a princess birthday party theme. She loves the magical world of princesses and was very bothered by her hair falling out because of the chemo. All the princesses had long, pretty hair so how could she be a princess? Her hair is now growing back but with or without hair, she has always been a beautiful princess.

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