A Pocket Full of Quarters
Searra, an eight-year-old brain tumor patient, was a "regular" in the Radiation Oncology Department, much like the other patients who came to the cancer center everyday for a five- or six-week period. With my office located near the main entrance, I could hear Searra, also called CC, coming from a distance.
Sure enough, she popped her head in every morning around 10:00 A.M. to say "hi" or, more important, to check out the toys and coloring materials I had stashed in my office. Several steps behind, CC's grandmother, also called Mommie, since she served as her guardian, would trail in as she tried keeping up with CC's anxious pace.
CC was not the least bit interested in hearing more about her cancer or her hair loss. When she walked into the department, it was time to socialize with the staff, who became her instant friends, and to see what kind of masterpiece she could color for Mommie before she was called back for her treatment.
I was taken aback by the love CC had for Mommie. Whenever I asked her about home life, school work or how she was feeling, every response referred to her time spent with Mommie, the funny stories they shared and how much she loved her. On numerous occasions, CC made it clear that Mommie was the center of her world.
When CC was first treated with radiation therapy, the therapists told her that they would give her a quarter each day if she promised to keep her head still on the treatment table. Certainly, after six weeks of therapy, she had a pocketful of quarters! So on the last day, the therapists wanted to know what big toy she was going to buy with all her change. CC replied, "Oh, I am not going to buy a toy. I am going to buy something for Mommie because of all the nice things she does for me."
CC's sincerity, unselfishness, warmth and loyalty to Mommie taught me about what is really important in life. She constantly showed that loving others with true commitment is the best gift you can give another-whether a family member or a friend. Certainly, CC has an excuse to complain or be angry at the world for a childhood totally different from the other children's in her third-grade class. I have never heard her complain about her bald head, swollen face and body (as a result of the steroids), or low energy level, which keeps her from playing outside. CC continues to live her life the way she chooses, and that includes giving of herself to make the world a better place for others, especially Mommie.
CC reminds me to not take those people I love for granted and to look beyond the superficiality that is often found in day-to-day living. I am reminded to be more thankful for what I have today and to not dwell on what is behind me or what lies ahead. CC, just like many other cancer patients, is a true example that we aren't always dealt the perfect hand, so we have to make the best of what we have today.