Most people never get to meet their heroes. I have, in fact—I have met many heroes. These heroes didn’t set out for greatness; they fell victim to a terrible disease and faced it with courage, might and bravery like I have never seen before. And when we talk about this type of battle, there is no such thing as losing. whether the battle ended in death, life, or debility, each of these heroes defeated.
My heroes are the innocent children who battle cancer. I high-fived, hugged, wept over, laughed and played with my heroes for 10 years as a nurse. And you better believe I took advantage of all of that face time I was so fortunate to be given with my heroes. Every ounce of wisdom they revealed, joy they ignited and courage they displayed, I took notes and tried to soak up as much of their secrets as I could. These children, babies, and teenagers often faced their challenges with fierce grace. For some, unfortunately, their war was the only normal they knew.
My conversation with a friend the other day began in a normal fashion, describing this incredible life changing season of my career and it quickly dove into a flood of memories that when put to words sounded like a script from a movie or a novel. I realized that what took place in that sacred place, the fourth floor of the hospital, was surreal, supernatural and nothing short of the most beautiful display of the human spirit.
And in that conversation, I went on to describe the scenes I witnessed:
The three weddings I attended, all for my patients because their last wishes were to be married to their sweethearts, one even taking place inside his hospital room.
The time my team was able to contact Ellen Degeneres’ assistant and get our girl on a plane, to go meet and dance with Ellen on her show.
And there was that sweet boy, J, whose grandpa asked me to hold J while he took his last breath because he was certain his heart would split in two if he had to do it.
And H, who laid lifeless in her bed; when her mom gave permission to run to Jesus, her legs ran in the bed while she took her last breath.
S and T in rooms next to each other, friends, had dreams that they were going to leave this world on the same day and they did, hours apart.
The doctor allowed me to chaperone T to his high school football game to participate in the coin toss as he was team captain. Although, instead of wearing pads, he pulled an IV pole. And the same kid, while on his Make a Wish trip, called me from the studio so his favorite nurse (hehe) could talk to Pharrell!
There was baby T who went for his scan and the large mass in his chest was miraculously gone.
Oh, and the countless bonds that were formed, the sweetest friendships you’ve ever seen. The kids who, without fear or hesitation, asked their fellow fighters to save them a place in Heaven. There were ceremonial gifting of things, as if tying up loose ends. Kids who gave away their most prized possessions, pets and toys because they knew it was time to. The heroism the parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, etc demonstrated daily as they created the strongest village for not only their child but the entire fourth floor was beyond belief.
I sincerely hope you will get to meet your hero one day . . . or perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to cross paths with one of mine.