|May 27, 2007. Lily, hanging in the PICU.|
It felt like a cruel joke.
In high school, my best friend and I always used to irrationally worry about things like brain tumors--like if we had a headache or felt dizzy. I think about this everyday. Like, somehow I knew this was coming. Or somehow I brought it to my front door.
May is always a dark month for me. The day Lily was diagnosed, May 16, I felt terribly alone. It felt like I was abandoned by God, my God whom I had loved so much. The tumor took our safety away. It took away the cushion, the padding, it burst a bubble, it ruined everything I planned and hoped for the future. What Mike and I had planned for our daughter--little Lily, who had already survived preemie-hood, who was always the brightest light in the room and who was still giggling and laughing, even as the emergency room doctor said, "There is a mass. Neurosurgery is on the way down."
Then I did not know that somewhere, maybe even in that same hospital, 9 other mothers heard the same news--"Sorry, your child has a brain tumor." And that every day in May, June and every single month of the year, 10 more mothers would hear that horrible diagnosis. I did not know that just a few floors above me, a child was dying from a brain tumor. I had no idea.
Brain tumors happen to children--10 a day, 3, 750 a year. There are 28,000 children in the United States living with a diagnosis of a brain tumor. These are children you see at the grocery store; they are in your child's class at school; they go to your church; they live in your neighborhood. These are babies and toddlers and preschoolers and tweens and teenagers. They are children.
The reality makes it hard to wake up some mornings. But then I hear Lily, bellowing from her bedroom, asking me to help her find an outfit for school. That is my after-tumor reality--that is my hope for the 10 mothers who today will feel like all hope is lost. It is the hope and a prayer for a future, for a cure and for an end to dark May days.