What do a thirteen year old girl and cancer have in common?

The answer should be a big, fat WHAT? ARE YOU INSANE? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! shouted at the top of our lungs.

Am I right?

A thirteen year old girl should be busy thinking about what shoes to wear to school that day, whether the brown shirt goes better with the jeans than the pink one, will Griffin ever grow a spine and ask her out, why won’t Alyssa call her back, should she get highlights, will her mom ever get a clue, could the school lunch today be any grosser, how many minutes are left on her phone, what movie should she rent at Blockbuster that night, and will every one come to her birthday party this weekend?

She should definitely not be thinking about how to keep herself busy as she receives a chemotherapy drip at Strong Memorial Hospital, home to the premier cancer center in our area.

But that’s exactly what she’s doing. Because sometimes life just sucks, pure and simple.

Her name is Micaela and she had just started eighth grade when she was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. She lives a couple miles away from us and attends school in the district next to ours. Because Zoe once attended Micaela’s district, they have some friends and acquaintances in common, even though they don’t know each other. I’m good friends with Micaela’s Aunt Claire and she keeps me appraised of Micaela’s condition.

As I’m typing this, Micaela is recovering from her first week of chemotherapy. And she’s doing so with courage and grace, as is her family. A day or two before her first treatment, she went with her mom to get her hair cut shorty short. She thought it might help her cope when the time comes to cut it all off before the chemo does it for her.

I’m wondering if I could have been that courageous at thirteen.


I bet Julie, Micaela’s mom, would give pretty much anything for the chance to scream something like that now.

Micaela’s life and that of her immediate and extended family, have been turned upside down and all I can think about is there but for the grace of God go I.

Could I possibly be any more selfish? But honestly, my first thought was that it could have been Zoe. They’re only a year apart. Zoe now sleeps with one eye open because she’s afraid I’ll tackle her when she least expects it so that I can feel every single one of her lymph nodes.

Why does one young girl get cancer and another not?

Why one family and not another?

If it ‘s true that God doesn’t give anyone more than they can handle, then why does he think some people are oxen and can handle a load far heavier than others? No one in Micaela’s family looks like an ox.

Micaela’s family has set up a CaringBridge website where Micaela’s condition is updated and where people from all over the globe can leave her a little hey there in a guestbook. Some good cyber karma and c’mon, who doesn’t need some good karma? Especially when we’re opening our 401K statements and fainting left and right?

Claire has told me how invaluable this guestbook has been to Micaela, to know that people from all over are pulling for her. The compassion that can pour through the Internet, through a DSL connection or dial-up alike, can be incredibly empowering, especially to a thirteen year old girl who is bound to feel a bit lonely and isolated as her friends experience eighth grade the way it should be experienced, not from a chair in the middle of a cancer ward nowhere near her locker.

Here’s her CaringBridge link, if you’ve got a little karma to spare: Micaela

Do me a favor … give your loved ones a squeeze today. I’m going to try to, if I can catch Helena as she runs by me and if Zoe doesn’t knock me unconscious with her don’t you dare stare.

Oh, and Zoe? I’ll try to leave your lymph nodes alone, but no promises, OK?

Share this post

13 thoughts on “What do a thirteen year old girl and cancer have in common?”

  1. Avatar

    As I’ve spent today trying to comfort a sick almost five year old, all I can say, how lucky I am that it’s just a sore throat.

    I can deal with that. How Micaela’s parents are dealing with this is a wonder to me. I wish them all the very best.

  2. Avatar

    Oh, life. It can be so hard. I could just imagine her parents wanting to be in her place: if only we could do an illness switcheroo. Who knows if there is a plan, or if it’s life as it comes to us and as we deal with it.

    A schoolmate of my 12-year-old daughter’s died last year from cancer he had had since he was three. Honestly, I can’t thing of anything worse than a church full of young children crying for a friend. The heart really does stop. But then after, they were given envelopes of butterflies to release and they restored to life. The beauty of life: the interconnectedness we all experience.

    Micaela is in my thoughts.

  3. Avatar

    My cousin developed Hodgkins when we were little, around 5 or six I think. He went into remission a couple of times, and now he his a cancer free 39 yr old.

    With the better treatment options they have today, hopefully Micaela will be a survivor too.

  4. Avatar

    Life is unfair when it shows it’s ugly side in youth. My niece fought cancer for 3 years. Her family grew so close during the time. I don’t know how my SIL managed. I don’t think I could have.

    My prayers are with her and her family.

  5. Avatar

    omg…i’m so sorry. cancer sucks but for a CHILD??? i have no words. going to leave her a little note of “hang in there”….:(

  6. Avatar

    I’ll spread my positive thoughts and prayers for the whole family. It’s hard to understand the whys of these things but in the end I guess it’s not about that. I love how you can write with both sensitivity AND humor at the same time.

  7. Avatar

    That definitely makes me stop and think. Maybe I should try not to have another meltdown today. My head can only explode so many times before it won’t go back together quite right.
    That family is in my thoughts & prayers.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *