The brown-haired boy followed her with his puckish brown eyes as she entered the room. In his tiny six-year-old frame he mustered a dose of full-grown Latin charm. He squashed traces of fear with daring, macho bravado and masculine charisma.
“I’m not sick,” he asserted.
As she climbed into her out-patient bed next to him Jordan grinned wide with her own brand of pride and charm.
Another cycle of chemo is coming to an end. It’s week #4, which means she’ll have four weeks to rest and forget about needles, blood counts and IV canisters. And since she has completed her physical therapy, she won’t have to go to the hospital at all until she begins her next chemo cycle in May.
I’m superstitious so I won’t say she’s doing well. I’ll only say that no news is good news … and I haven’t posted here for a very long time.
She is back to school and we feel very blessed about where she ended up. She now attends the Sierra Madre school just a few blocks from our home. She’s in a blended first grade class, doing all the things the kids without cancer do. It was not easy transitioning from being home with mom every day back to a structured day of learning. But she’s coming along and making great progress.
Physically, it’s astonishing what she can do. She attends ballet class every week. She can point and wiggle her toes, which some doctors thought might never happen. She still can’t flex her foot, but seeing those toes wiggle is joy enough for me. She wants to take up tennis again. And when the kids presented me with a snowboard for my birthday last week Jordan declared that she wants to learn to ski next year when the family takes its winter holiday.
Emotionally, she’s as balanced today as she was four years ago. She doesn’t linger on her illness. Sometimes, I think she wears it as a badge of honor – a sign of her strength and gusto. The doctors have reduced the dosage on some of her anti-seizure medications, which resulted in some moodiness. But Jeanette reminded me that Jordan was moody when she was only a few months old. This behavior change is actually a return to normal.
What strikes me most about Jordan these days is her compassion for others. Perhaps it’s because we’re more aware of it, or perhaps there’s a rise in incidence, but we know many friends and family members who have recently taken their own steps on a cancer journey. And every time Jordan learns about someone close who is also fighting the disease, her thoughts and prayers turn to them. I’ve never heard her pray for help towards her own cause. She only thanks God for helping her be strong. But she often prays for Him to help others with the disease. It’s fascinating to watch her act as an ambassador or advocate.
Last week I enjoyed time at home … off the road for a change. Most nights Jordan and I would snuggle up on the couch in the evening and read from Harry Potter. She listens carefully and often squeals when Hermione does something valiant. One night, when one of the characters said something about Harry’s scar, Jordan stopped me from reading.
“Harry has a scar like me.”
“Yes. He does. That’s from where someone tried to kill him.”
“Just like cancer tries to kill me.”
I didn’t know how to react to this. In all our discussions about disease, we never speak of death. It’s not that we don’t want her to consider the possibilities of her illness, because she does. When her friend Jenna passed she became all too aware of the potential consequences. We don’t speak of death because it isn’t a subject that ever surfaces. Jordan revels in her body’s ability to heal, not in the deficiencies caused by cancer.
I thought for a moment–tried to think of something appropriate to say without sounding trite or patronizing. Then I fell back on the time-tested approach: ask a question.
“What happened to Harry?”
“He got stronger. Just like me.”