It turns out my daughter’s sinus infection was anything but; it was actually a huge cancerous tumor that had been taking up two thirds of her little chest. It had caused one of her lungs to collapse.
We did have dinner that night, although neither of us was very hungry, we mostly just pushed our food around our plates in a room on the pediatric oncology unit of Fairfax Hospital. We didn’t know it at the time but we would wind up having our next 450 meals in that hospital as well as hundreds and hundreds of additional meals over the next couple of years.
When the doctors gave me the news that my daughter had stage 4 Hodgkin’s disease I had to dig really deep within my soul. I had to become braver than I ever thought possible… I had to have a really tough conversation with a very scared 16 year old girl. I wound up purchasing two sterling silver “feather” bracelets from an American Indian art store near the hospital, a small feminine bracelet for Shayla and a larger one for myself. I “spread my arms and held my breath” and went in to the room to have a “talk” with a sweet little girl. I talked with her about everything and nothing, I talked with her about the wind and about feathers and I talked with her about cancer. We talked about the word “brave.” We held each other very tight for a very long time. I’m pretty sure we both cried a little and we promised each other that no matter what, we would be brave; together we would get through this.
I gave her the bracelet I had bought for her and I put mine on at the same time, again I talked about the wind and about feathers and how fate had blown the two of us together.