My superhero

Today, a little boy from Tanner’s kindergarten class came by to give Tanner an adorable card he made her. On the front, it said “Super Tanner” and had a picture of Tanner flying in a cape. Inside was a sweet note, dictated to his Mom, about how Tanner was a superhero who was going to win the battle against the evil leukemia monster… adorable and so true.

Today, my needle-phobic child who has to take anti-anxiety medicine just to go to the dentist, showed the child life lady a hilarious video of Jake in one of Lily’s pink wigs while the nurse put the IV line into her port. No holding her arms down, no screaming, no crying. A little wimpering after it was all over and a little visible anxiety beforehand, but wow, what a difference. Then, when it was time to take it out, again, no big deal. Last week we had to lay on her legs and hold her arms. Amazing. Tanner Page, my superhero.

It is humbling to discover what a five-year-old can learn to accept. She has accepted that she has cancer, that no matter how repulsive a medicine may taste, the pain relief is worth it, and that she will lose her precious hair. She will accept so many other things that a five-year-old shouldn’t have to accept, but she will be so strong when she finally beats this.

The other day, she asked the question we had been dreading most: “Mom, do people die from leukemia?” I knew this question would eventually come, but didn’t expect it so soon and wasn’t really prepared the way I wanted to be. John and I paused and then I explained that grown ups and little tiny babies get leukemia, too, and that they sometimes die because they can’t fight infection as well, but that kids like her do super with leukemia. This seemed to satisfy her for the moment, but I know the question will come up again, and, eventually, she’ll figure out that some kids do die from leukemia. Then, she will have to accept that, too.

But, I’ll do everything I can to assure she never accepts that SHE might die. No way. I’ve never even considered it ,and I don’t want her too, either. That is not her fate. She is a superhero and superheroes never give up and always beat the bad guy.


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