Sunday, February 13, 2011

She's going to die

My friend Ed's daughter. She is just 24 years old.

Her leukemia is in remission right now, but the doctors are guarded about her ability to make it to 30. So she got married in hurry -- forgoing the big Chicago wedding they were planning and settling for a judge's chambers in New York, where she now lives and is undergoing treatment.

Before this last round of chemo, she had her eggs harvested. The doctors warned her that the chemicals might destroy her eggs and she desperately wants to have a baby with her new husband.

And now she wants a bone marrow transplant. She's been warned that it could very well shorten her life even more, but it would enhance her ability to carry her own fertilized egg, and that's what she wants. She wants to have a healthy baby as normally as possible with her new groom. As she told her dad, my friend Ed, she's less interested in "quantity of years than quality."

Ed is one of the world's biggest movie fans. He keeps likening his daughter to Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias. I wish that movie had a happier ending. I really do.

This is terrible for Ed. This daughter of his was an accident. He and his wife never wanted children. When his wife found she was pregnant, they discussed abortion seriously but finally decided against it. And so my friend was shocked and delighted by how much he loved this little person who he never anticipated having in his life.

He adores her. Over the years I've heard it all: how beautifully she performed as Maria in The Sound of Music, how she agonized about her ears and insisted on always wearing her hair long to cover them, how lost she first felt when she first went away to college in New York, how she met and fell in love with Brian ... and now this horror.

I don't know his wife as well as I know him, but she is in my thoughts and prayers, too. For this is not her first time, hanging around in waiting rooms, waiting for news about a loved one. Ed himself battled prostate cancer and almost lost his life in 2008. He lost his job not long after that, and she has been supporting her little family by herself since then.

I hate my new haircut. My condo is a mess. And then I think of them and my priorities quickly reshuffle.

6 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:27 AM

    The story about your friend has really moved me, especially as her parents weren't sure they wanted her before she was born. It must be agonising for them now that they are going to lose her anyway having loved her once she was born. As you say, priorities quickly reshuffle when we're faced with the life and death situation your friend is in and the choices she has had to make about her own children.
    Sending love and blessings from England.

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  2. My sister-in-law's best friend is living the same storyline right now. Different type of cancer, but same results. Harvested eggs, rushed wedding, horrible rounds of treatments. She was pronounced cancer free and then, a month shy of a year later, it had come back. She is now terminal but still fights to have some life that can provide quality. She is 34 years old. Because of all these stories, cancer is the only charity we support largely and consistently. It touches everyone and is the scourge of the earth. My heart goes out to your friend and his family.

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  3. Reading this made me wonder if I would want to know that the end is near. I'm sad for your friend and his daughter. I hope there isn't much suffering but instead a life full of love.

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  4. Anonymous7:41 PM

    I feel for your friend - I've always known that the worst think that could happen to a parent is to outlive your child, but I think that *watching your child die* has to be even worse.

    I think I've blogged about this before, but a former co-worker has a 6-year-old daughter who has been battling stage 4 neuroblastoma for the past two years. She went into remission for a very brief time, but the cancer has returned, and it's not looking good.

    I've always been of the mind that just because someone has it worse off than you do doesn't make *your* troubles any less important, but yeah ... thinking about these two young women really puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

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  5. Stories like this does put your own life in a different perspective.
    After a year that we have had within our own family, it's so clear that your life can change in an instant.
    I hope that your friend's family keeps the hope alive and live it day to it's fullest. They at least have this time together. So sad when cancer gets the young ones, but there's always a chance that you can beat the statistical odds.

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  6. I can understand, even the tiniest bit, how your friend and his wife must feel, watching someone they love with all their heart go through this.

    While it's not anything anyone ever ever wants, there are blessings to be found. I found them as I walked that path with Lauren and was grateful for the time I had with her even while knowing those days were shortened.

    I will hold your friend's family in the Light and send prayers for whatever is in the highest good of them all as we can never really know that, can we?

    You are a wonderful friend who continues to hold a sacred space for him. I think that's one of the things you do best - hold sacred space. :) You may not see it, but we all do.

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