Sunday, April 14, 2013

Zombie Cells and An Old Soul

I struggle with how much I can write about my kids.  They are 10 and 7 now, and while they don't object to me talking about them on the blog, yet, when something scary or sensitive comes up I don't really know where the line is.

When Greta was grappling with anxiety I posted about it, once, and received so much support and helpful advice, that my heart-gut wants to post about what is going on with her now.  But my heart-gut also says it's not my story to tell.

My mind has gone around and around and I've decided to write about it, because it's on my heart and I need to share.

Greta had a suspicious mole removed from her back a couple of weeks ago, and now it's come back as "abnormal cells with moderate to severe indication of melanoma".


We're getting lots of advice from her dermatologist and friends about exactly what this means, how concerned we should be.  We know for sure she'll have to go back and have more removed, the usual procedure for anything suspicious.

But the "M" word? For my 10 year old girl?  It makes me want to curl up in a ball and ask someone else to be the parent.

Apparently this is genetic - not sun exposure. When she was 3 days old she developed a large mole and the pediatrician looked at me gravely and said "you're going to have to watch her skin closely ... this isn't usual for such a young baby".

So I'm crazy about sunscreen, sun shirts, doing everything in my limited power to protect her.

But DAMMIT. There is only so much I can do, of course.

Hopefully the silver lining will be that she will checked regularly, her whole life, and this will mean nothing scary can get out of hand.

But I don't WANT that for my kid, Universe.  We've spent the past year and a half in Cancer Land. I'm always going to be a denizen of that realm, and it's taking me a long time and a lot of hard work to come to terms with it for myself.

Please, please, may my daughter never have to live there, too.

This doesn't mean she has cancer or she'll ever get cancer.  My Mom heart soars into terror, knowing how aggressive melanoma is, even as I realize I'm overlaying my own traumatic past year and a half over her. She's not me. I know this.  But if I could jump in front of this bullet for her - even it's a rubber bullet that will only bruise her - I would.

This doesn't help her anxiety, either.  She's too intuitive, too nuanced, to believe my reasonably voiced assurances.  "This could be bad, right, Momma?" she asks, tears flowing down her cheeks.

"It's not anything right now, sweetie," I answer.  She asks more about cancer, and I try to make it simple.  "Cancer is a really scary word, I know," I say. "But all cancer really means is cells that change, and cells change for all different reasons.  And you have strong cells in your body that fight off that bad cells, too.  You are young and healthy and you don't need to be afraid", I say, convincing myself as much as her.

She is quiet a moment, and then she says, "Like Plants vs. Zombies?  The video game? I have some Zombie cells and the Good Plant Cells are fighting them off but sometimes they can't get them all and then they have to take the Zombie cells out?"

After my own stunned silence I say, pushing back tears, "Yes.  It's exactly like that".  Oh, my wise old soul little girl, I don't say.

Some prayers our way would be appreciated. I'm working on keeping my feet planted firmly on the earth, not letting the awfulizing cycle of bad-scenarios take up too much space in my head. 

This morning I watched her sprint like a gazelle down the soccer field, brown ponytail flying behind her, a big smile planted on her face as she lined up a seemingly impossible shot and BAM! -- she scored.   She high fived and hugged her team mates and looked over at us with a grin. There she is. I think.  My girl.  So vibrant and strong and full of life.

And today?  Today things are good.  If we stay in today step by step we'll work through this, like we always do.


  1. I was 16 when I had something similar removed from my back. I've not had a recurrence in the twenty-something years since.

    I am sending her & you the wish for the same. It's hard to watch your kids go through rough stuff like that. xo

  2. Keeping you both in my thoughts and in my heart.

  3. I want you to know that you and your family have been added to the prayers i say to my Higher Power everyday...

  4. Oh Ellie, love, prayers and strength to you all. She is an amazing little girl with a lot of her mama in her so you know she will overcome whatever the universe throws in her path.

  5. Many prayers. I have an 11 year old girl...I can't imagine how hard that conversation must have been for you. xo

  6. Holding Greta up to the Universal Healing Power and hoping for the best possible outcome, Ellie.

  7. I will pray for you and your daughter, Ellie. I am sorry you are going through this. Sending love and strength your way.XO Jenna

  8. Oh, friend, friend, friend. So many prayers heading your way. And Greta's too.

  9. Healing and peace for Greta. Strength and peace for her mom.

  10. I am sitting here totally teared up right now. Not because I think something bad is going to happen because I don't. But just because I feel you. Like I really feel you in every way. It's going to be okay just because it has to be. We all love you and are holding you both up until you get the news that it's all clear.

  11. As I sit here thinking about what to say, I read the words on your Inspirational Pendants along the side. Hope. Faith. Peace. My wishes for you, Ellie.
    xox Shanon

  12. Wow- another curve ball of anxiety thrown your way. SO. NOT. FAIR. I would be furious at the universe if I were in your shoes. But, I think from what I have gleaned of you, I know we both have the tendency to awfulize...and that comment is not meant to minimize the real stuff that has happened. My sister had the same thing and is a nurse. She has had no problems after removal (she is fair skinned and had to have three removals of abnormal moles that were indicative of melanoma.) It's been over twenty-five years and she is C-free. Not the same degree of worry, but my son started to develop tics and I was going to the extreme right away. I imagined no friends, no job, etc....Tourette's Syndrome, if that is what the tics end up being, is not the end of the world. I had to get a grip. I've prayed for him and will do so for you, me, and your lovely Greta. I'm so sorry you have to go through this. Love - Christine M.

  13. Oh Ellie, praying for you both that you can calm the anxiety squirrels and get through this calmly and together.

  14. Praying for your daughter and all of you.

  15. Ellie, I know this is so scary. Our babies are our hearts. My prayers and love will surround you and Greta for as long as it takes. I am encouraged by others' stories of full and complete healing. I am believing that for both of you. Prayers of comfort, love, healing, and every-little-things-gonna-be-alright feelings. God's got you both, sweet friend. : ) xoxo

  16. You and Greta have my prayers and love. Remember that skin cancer is the most treatable form with something like a 95% or higher survival rate. She's going to be just fine :) As a red head with pale skin I've had more than my fair share of moles removed and it's really a preventative measure more than anything. BIg hugs!

  17. Praying for you guys! I've had numerous pre-cancerous moles removed and my six year old daughter is following in my footsteps. It's scary, but we can't let the fear take over. Pray to your higher power and take it day by day. It will be ok. Hugs!

  18. It sounds like you've caught it early, which is the best thing that can happen in a situation like this! Hope everything goes OK :)

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