Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hannah Stars on the Today Show

I haven't written in a while about Little Miss Hannah, My Hero.  She is someone I think of on mornings like this one, when the whole night was spent in spasm, and Buddy ate one of the cables to the DVR.  Of course, normally, I'd comfort myself with music from my well-loaded, super-soothing mp3 player... but Buddy ate the last of my earbuds a few days ago.  It's not fair to Fred to then blast music on the CD player on my bedside table... although, right now, I could probably get away with it, because... Well, remember that ear infection Fred had a few months back?  It has returned, such that he has completely lost hearing in his left ear and perceives things in a distorted fashion out of his right side.  So I figure that blaring Pink Floyd won't endear me -- any more than I am already endeared -- to the belovèd Fredster.

No, I am NOT weeping... that's just the state of my right eyeball!

Yeah, so when things are this fun around here -- and did I mention that Fred the Chef made himself a burger bonanza at about 2 am?  And that he doesn't understand the concept of GREASE, or of those lovely little things I purchased that fit nicely over any frying element to prevent GREASE from covering, say, your girl's cute little bright red enamel kettle?  The damn thing practically slipped out of my hands when I picked it up to get coffee started.  Umm, where was I?

Oh, right!

Hannah has had *real* troubles.  Not the kind that go away with a little elbow grease and some electrical tape.  Not the kind that can be overcome by the application of bad wit and an even worse attitude.

I know this is weird, but I have admired and loved Hannah since someone first referred me to her CaringBridge site sometime last year.  At that time, she had been diagnosed with a pretty straightforward osteosarcoma in her leg.  That sounds simple enough, doesn't it -- "she had been diagnosed with a pretty straightforward osteosarcoma in her leg."

Well, for an athletic, sensitive, active, highly intelligent young lady, that had to be devastating.  But she soldiered on... and I admit that kind of worried me, as I do know something about the dangers -- the future emotional dangers -- for kids who just soldier on through hard times.  I had a somewhat dysfunctional father who harangued into my thick head that I was to take any troubling issue and put it in a box (said box residing inside the aforementioned thick head), and "never, ever open it again."

THAT'S the healthy way of addressing problems!  Might that be behind my tendency to sleep for a week when confronted with some badass issue?  I know -- get over it!  Well, like everyone, it does sometimes feel like I've spent my entire freaking life getting over the emotional dysfunction gifted to me by the Parental-Units... and I'm also highly cognizant of the fact that I am wayyyy past "grown," and responsible for myself and my actions/reactions.

So I still spend time looking for people from whom to learn, for people who seem to have it together, for people whose natural inclinations, good upraising, and excellent natures guide them in the right way.  The Tao, I'd have said at one time.

Such is Hannah.  She and her family studied the various surgical options for her osteosarcoma -- the one sure thing is that these tumors must come out, and removing tumor from bone almost always involves hugely traumatic, life-changing surgeries, mostly amputations.  In recent years, though, another very creative option has gained in popularity, especially for children.  It allows them to be fitted, once healing has been accomplished, with state-of-the-art prostheses that permit continued participation in sports, and, really, given the optimism and brilliance of kids -- participation in anything.  It is a procedure called a rotationplasty.  If you go back and read some of the initial posts on this blog about My Hero Hannah, you'll find better explanations and a video that her mom recommended.

I will be honest.  It turned my stomach when I first read about it.  I cried.  Then I watched that video and others, and thought about the many heroes I met during my brief stint at the Shepherd Center, and the bravery of people who are not willing to cave in to circumstances, who are claiming a normal life, and know to do so at very tender ages.  And I straightened up.  To rehabilitate my Dad's bad advice mentioned above, he also hammered into my head that I should "straighten up and fly right."

What can I say?  The man was a career officer in the United States Air Force.

Ah, but Hannah's road did not get easier, even after the rotationplasty and the process of rehab and fitting prostheses.  In one of the saddest twists that I've ever heard of, one of the side effects of the chemotherapy she underwent for the osteosarcoma is... leukemia.

In a double, triple (it's hard to keep count) whammy, she developed leukemia, and they also discovered nodules in her lung that were metastatic cancers from the original tumor in her leg.  So brave Hannah now had to defeat cancer again, and ultimately required a bone marrow transplant, which she just recently completed.  To be honest, the reason I've not written about her for a while is that, although the initial signs are that the transplant has gone wonderfully and has grafted completely with her immune system... I've been feeling like a jinx.

But I'm over that.  It's time to celebrate Hannah;  it's time for Hannah to do all her grieving and processing, healing and living.  It's time to take that deep, cleansing breath.

So her mom has been very excited about Hannah having been chosen to be featured in this Today Show segment.  It got bumped a few times, but finally aired today.  She looks beautiful and radiant to me, after having seen nothing but pictures of her during the worst of times.  She faces many a challenge, the first being to process all that happened to her with such rapidity, the next being the many daily obstacles requiring adjustments (pieces of cake, I'll wager, though irritating as all get out), and then that future road, of which none of us can ever be sure.

But there is no one better prepared, no one with better support, and no one more heroic.*

*Nota bene:  I DESPISE the concept of the "exceptional" sufferer, be it a patient with a physical illness or challenge, be it someone mired in the worst of the universe's circumstances.  There is no requirement, that I am aware of, that people must do exceptional things, all the while smiling and encouraging others.  I am more comfortable around someone who throws the occasional fit and curses God, figuring, I suppose, that these are the people who really are in relationship with God.  So if Hannah were ever to pout, act like a brat, regret what she feels she's missed... that sounds perfectly normal and fine.  It's just that she is not going to ever be STUCK there...  It's not in her nature.  If I've envy, well, that's where it lies.

So here she is, star of the morning news shows!

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© 2013 L. Ryan

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