I Don’t Understand…

So I’m sitting here trying not to cry, mostly because I’m scared that once I start, I might never stop. I’m sad because at this moment there is this beautiful little girl who is battling stage 4 neuroblastoma. Cancer. Her name is Lena and she is only 4 years old. She is my uncle’s wife’s niece. My uncle married Crissy a few years back. She’s more like a sister to me than an aunt, probably due to the fact that she’s not much older than me. She’s great. She’s easy to open up to…and we have had our share of heart wrenching conversations. I can tell her anything and not worry about it getting back to anyone else in the family. It helps that we’re close in age because a lot of the things I’m going through are things she has gone through herself at some point or another. Whether it be guy issues or a fight with a friend or just little things I need to talk about that I’m not comfortable telling anyone else in the family I can tell her. I can’t even count all the times I’ve poured my heart out to her and vice versa. I can stand there and cry or scream and she will just stand there and listen, hug me when it’s over, and say “do you feel better now?” She doesn’t judge me or tell me to get over it. Instead she will smile and say “you know what, he’s not even worth it” or something inappropriately funny like “let’s go call up a hitman.” That’s Crissy. I used to stay at their house constantly. At one point they even offered to let me move in, even if it was just because i needed to get away for a while. We don’t hang out like we used to because our lives are so hectic, but I do miss it sometimes.

Anyways, one of her sisters, Brandi, has these five (yes I said five) kids despite having only turned 30 this month. There’s the first two that are a little older, then twin girls (referred to as the twinnies as it’s hard to tell them apart at times). And then there is Lena who is 4 years old…at first I couldn’t believe it, seeing this woman who’s not much older than myself who has 5 kids. Its mind-boggling. They truly are great kids, sweet and polite, and utterly adorable. We may not be blood related, but they’re still like family. Which is why I couldn’t believe it when my grandmother called me almost a month ago with the news that Lena had been diagnosed.

Blood or not, it was devastating. She was diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer that generally only affects children. Stage 4 is bad. Basically, it’s the most advanced stage. She has several tumors and the cancer has spread throughout her little body. It makes me so angry and I cannot understand how the doctors didn’t catch it a long time ago. I figured that it was because she never showed any symptoms. The doctors don’t understand either. Considering how advanced the cancer is, she should have been really sick. But she wasn’t. No one even suspected anything if not for that she had tripped and had a bump on her head from when fell a few weeks before. Her pediatrician told her parents not to worry, that it would go away in a couple of weeks. If Brandi hadn’t trusted her instincts and demanded further testing, then who knows when they would have discovered the cancer, if at all. The immediate course of action was to begin an aggressive treatment of chemo and radiation. She just finished her first round of chemo, the first of several she will need to have. When she’s done with the chemo she’ll start the radiation. My heart breaks for the nightmare the family is now living through, especially Lena. She’s only 4 years old. Just a baby. Cancer is hell for a grown adult, let alone a child. How do you tell a 4-year-old that she has cancer when she’s too young to know what cancer even is? And how do you give her answers when she asks why she has to live in a hospital and why she can’t go home, sleep in her own bed, or play with her brother and sisters? Or why she has to take this vile medicine that makes her sick and makes her hair fall out? What do you say to her when she eventually asks the crucial question of why this is happening to HER? How can you answer her questions when you don’t have the answer yourself? It’s just not fair. She’s done nothing to deserve this. Neither has any other child who is fighting the same battle. I can’t even begin to imagine the pure hell that Brandi and Lena’s father are going through right now, seeing their little girl suffering and in pain, wanting so badly to make it all go away and yet they can’t. It’s not fair to Lena or everyone else.

I have always believed that everything happens for a reason, but I must admit, I’m now having doubts. There’s just no good reason for why this is happening. And there is sure as hell isn’t a lesson to be learned from this. It’s wrong. Because of this a lot of people have turned to religion, praying to God to make this go away and let Lena be ok. I’m not religious…or a hard-core atheist. I have a lot of unanswered questions and plenty of doubts.

I haven’t always thought this way about religion though. My grandmother took us to church every Sunday from the time when I was just a baby up until I was about 12 or so. The turning point in religion for me was when my grandfather passed away. He also had cancer. After he was diagnosed he began going to church with us. He believed his faith would cure him. It didn’t. He suffered. I may have been young, but I remember that much. He tried everything, including aggressive chemo, and yet God still let him die. He was a good man. Like Lena, he didn’t deserve it. After he died, I was so angry with God. My grandmother said it was wrong to blame God, that it was HIS will and while we may never understand why, HE always has a reason. It’s not that I don’t believe in God or a higher power per se. I just refuse to believe that he is a loving God. I don’t see how a loving god could let my grandfather die, or put kids like Lena through this. I’m sorry if that offends anyone, but that is not an act of love. I stopped believing in the “power of prayer” after that. But since I heard about Lena, I pray every night. I don’t know if God will hear me or answer them, or if he even exists, but right now I will do anything and everything if that’s what it takes for Lena to beat this. She is truly an angel. I don’t understand how someone so young can possess such great strength. Even the world’s strongest man would pale in comparison to her. I know that she’s going to beat this. She has everyone fighting along with her. Her family, her doctors, the community, and even complete strangers in other states. She gives US hope, which is utterly amazing. So here’s to Lena, good luck little angel…



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