My 19 year old daughter had just flown back to the States after great travel through Europe. There’s one more fling before college starts again – a rock concert in Chicago. And then she read a text from a close college friend. The 19-year-old is having brain surgery at a major medical center – UPMC in Pittsburgh. She’s been having weird symptoms that affected her mood for months. And lately, there had been brief seizures. MRI showed a tumor on the right side of her brain and, as I write this, they are scheduled to remove as much as they can. Then days in the ICU and then chemo. Again, she’s just 19. It’s a shocker for the young woman, her family and, her young close friends, like my daughter. How could something bad happen to someone so young?.
I have written many times before about serious diagnoses – cancer and others like MS, rheumatoid arthritis, or Crohn’s – in young adults. It seems to come out of nowhere. It’s uncommon and unexpected. And it can be life threatening or, at the least, life changing. Last night my daughter and I recalled a young woman from Montana we met in the infusion area of Seattle Children’s. She had brain cancer. Treatment had gone on for months. But she was still up beat. My prayer is she is still smiling and doing well. And then I think of our dear friend, and the dynamo mentor for young adults with cancer, Matthew Zachary and his Stupid Cancer foundation and activities bringing young adults together. He had a brain cancer diagnosis as a student at Julliard in New York. He has become a superstar in patient advocacy and he is a father who peppers you with photos of his son, it seems, every day. A proud Papa who survived, has thrived, and makes a difference.
I have no idea what the prognosis is for my daughter’s dear friend. My thoughts are with her. I pray she will thrive as Matthew has. Certainly it may change the direction of her life and focus her goals for each day. And it’s a reminder to my daughter, and me, that life is precious, and that illness can affect anyone. Bad things happen to good people and it confounds us. My hope is modern medicine and her positive spirit will overcome this serious health challenge.
Wishing you the best of health,