Odd beads, too long and twisted to be a hippie’s necklace. I hold them softly between thumb and forefinger. Not regular enough to be a Buddhist mala or a Catholic rosary. As Sue explains them to me, forever brushes our cheeks.
The black beads are needle pokes, and the tortoise are lumbar punctures. The yellows are nights in the hospital, the blues are infusions, and the browns are losing all your hair. Some special beads are bumpy wheelchair rides, others are weeks of chemo, surgery, beeping monitors, and tubes. Kids with cancer get these beads as medals of honor, and these are Sasha’s beads.
No one should stick needles into kids to make them better—but we don’t yet know a better way to cure them. No grinning boy should die instead of racing though the bright snow on his skis.
What if the body could heal cancer the way it heals a splinter—one quick tweezer pinch and then a little redness for two days? What if a mom could say, “Yes, she has a little cancer,” and her friend could smile and say, “Oh, so just that one extra shot and she’ll be fine. No problem.”
Sasha’s beads tell of purple heart victories and courage. Holding the beads, I reach out to a new future. A cure. Easy treatments. Cancer made as small and weak as a splinter.
I wrote this because I love Sue and Sasha and everyone with cancer. It’s for a fundraiser to support treatments and cures; my daughter Micki Feldmeier is a team leader. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) is part of the American Cancer Society. Many LLS-supported therapies not only help blood cancer patients, but are also now used to treat patients with rare forms of stomach and skin cancers and are in clinical trials for patients with lung, brain, breast, pancreatic and prostate cancers. And LLS-funded drugs like targeted therapies and immunotherapies are now saving thousands of lives every day.
— by Jean Gendreau
On behalf of blood cancer patients everywhere, thank you! For more information about LLS, please visit www.lls.org