Thursday, May 03, 2018

Mom and I took the girls down to see Naiya at Vandy yesterday. This is her third inpatient chemo IV treatment that lasts 3-5 days, and she is feeling hospital burnt. And, so is my sister. Ash is so humble and loving that when totally human (necessary!) emotions arise, she immediately prefaces them with how grateful she is that Naiya is well enough to be argumentative or frustrated. She never loses sight of her blessings. I worry about the physical impact all this emotional stress will inevitably bring to my sister because there are no breaks or outlets in the foreseeable future. And, she needs one...she would refuse one...but, she needs one. Who wouldn't?

When we first arrived and were walking through the parking structure, a little girl who appeared to be close in age to our girls was walking with her mama. A black cap hugged her head tightly revealing the absence of hair. Nova, ever the observant one, excitedly called out, "Naiya!!" and we had to explain to her that it wasn't Naiya. But, my god, it might as well have been by the way my heart just fell to the floor and shattered. How can childhood cancer still exist? We know there are breakthroughs and possibly cures that never see the light of day because they would cut profits to pharmaceutical companies. Patients are customers. We know there are companies who cut corners by using toxic chemicals/ingredients to maximize profits. We know we are being slowly poisoned by the food we eat, the water we drink, the way we clean our houses, our bodies, etc...the list goes on. It is overwhelming...but, it is true. And, we know it is true by how Vanderbilt Children's hospital is currently building several additional floors (there's already 8!) just to keep up with the amount of children seeking treatment there. It is no longer the one random child in a town who gets cancer. There are several from our hometown right now. Naiya. A boy close to her age. A first grader. Two teenage boys. And, that list doesn't include the ones with debilitating chronic illness or autism. You simply cannot have a sudden genetic epidemic. Something is happening. And I believe there are entirely too many people in board rooms wearing expensive suits and enjoying immense profits who know and have made a decision to choose money over these children. I cannot imagine being so morally depraved. Sorry to be such a bummer...but, sometimes these things just get to me. Kali Ma energy activates inside me and I want to burn it all down. It's also a driving force behind seeking a holistic nursing career. The primary reason, of course, being Naiya.

Yesterday, we had a parade around the hospital with the girls riding in a little red wagon blasting Katy Perry and, as we passed other people, I watched their faces. They smiled, or waved/spoke to the girls and tried to conceal the little cringe most people experience at the sight of a sick child. I wondered if they could really see us beyond the tragedy of the situation. Could they really see Naiya, a girl who loves Minnie Mouse, and her cousins and playing dress up? A little girl who should be healthy and carefree during her childhood? Could they see Nova and Kindred, two girls who love playing with their cousin, and Calico Critters, and dolls? Girls who have no idea why their cousin can't come play sometimes? Could they see me, an aunt, a sister who loves and worries and would move mountains to protect the tiny little souls behind her in the wagon? Could they see Ashley, a mama who will never stop worrying and praying and fighting to keep her daughter well? Or, our mama, who loves her girls and her girls' girls with everything she has? I'm not sure they could 'see us' because the shock factor must be absorbed first. Naiya has cancer. My niece has cancer. I still can't say it or write it without feeling a sting in my eyes. At best, others can feel momentarily bad for her or her family. But, to fully realize the emotional spectrum of what is in front of their eyes? People would drop to their knees as we passed by. It would be unbearable in an acute dose. She is so loved. She is precious beyond any fathomable measurement. She is irreplaceable. She is ours.

What we can all see, though...are the increasing numbers of these children. We can see the labels on the products we buy. We can research the companies who manufacture those products and see how they treat their workers or the environment. We can go beyond the public relations campaigns of Big Agriculture and, yes, even Big Pharma to see what is really going on with the food we eat or the medicines we are given. If there is going to be change, it has to start with us because they've made their choices. We will have to fight for it, but ALL OF OUR children are depending on it. Vote with your dollar when you make a purchase and speak out against the ones who are guilty. Shop local. Grow veggies! Cut out processed food. Use natural cleaners. Look at your cosmetics, lotions, bodywashes.

In the short term, you may be inconvenienced, but if we want healthy children, we must make a change! And, we must start right now...
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