The Trooper

She resumed chemotherapy on Monday after a three-week break. She was anxious about starting up again, but the anxiety never spoiled her otherwise genial mood. We often say, “Jordan gets it done.” And indeed she does. It doesn’t matter how much she may complain, lash out, or fret, she always does what is needed to combat her disease. She is a survivor.

Yesterday morning, when Jeanette woke Jordan to see if she was up for school, she was greeted by a cranky admonishment. “I want to sleep,” Jordan complained. Jordan often misses school the day after chemo, but Jeanette was exercising due diligence. She rubbed Jordan’s back for a moment and explained that she just wanted to check on her. She asked gently if Jordan felt like going to school, but she also gave Jordan the option to stay home and rest. There was a moment of quiet and then Jordan rolled over and said, “I’ll try, mom.” A half hour later Jordan was boarding the school bus. The story humbled me. Had it been me the day after chemo, I don’t know that I would have been as strong, matter-of-fact, or as pliable with my mood.

Late last night, I awoke to the sound of Jordan stumbling down the hall. I heard her fall on the hardwood floor accompanied by a burping, liquid sound. She was trying to make it to the bathroom, but she was six feet short. I found her braced against the doorway, vomiting against her will. Her stomach was revolting against her, trying to rob of her of composure and dignity. This insubordination of her own body made her more angry than anything else. I helped her into the bathroom and held her head, taking turns with Jeanette in comforting her and cleaning up. Jordan moaned slightly, “I need to brush my teeth.” Even in the midst of uncontrollable bodily function, her mind was set toward getting up, getting going and moving on. A few minutes later she was up and back in bed. I checked on her and asked how she was doing. “I’m feeling much better,” she said, then rolled over and fell asleep.

Jeanette and I crawled back into our own bed. We lay silent in the darkness, close enough to throw an arm over one another. Jeanette whispered to me. “Poor thing.” I thought about it for a moment and resisted the urge to fall apart. I was dumbstruck by the cold reality of cancer and the resilience of my daughter. People ask me where we get the strength to keep going. I always point straight to Jordan. She is strong enough for our entire family. She is an awesome force of will and circumstance and unshakable resolve. She is a survivor.

Every year at Thanksgiving, we reflect on the many blessings Jordan’s journey has brought us. Her strength is certainly one, the kindness of our friends another. Most of all, we are thankful for Jordan’s continued health. In addition to her will and the support of those around us, Jordan is healthy because of the hard work and ongoing research by her doctors and research hospitals like Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. We hope you will join us again this year in supporting your favorite pediatric cancer cause. CHLA is our preferred charity, but there are many wonderful organizations out there who are helping children like Jordan fight cancer and live productive lives – helping them survive. Happy Thanksgiving.