Little Buddy

I like to think of the port catheter as Jordan’s Little Buddy. Almost an imaginary friend, because it cannot be seen so easily; just a subtle dimple on her chest. But it goes wherever she goes, underneath her skin, close to her heart, ready to serve.

Little Buddy became part of Jordan’s life in 2005 when she began IV chemotherapy. She was seven years old then. Little Buddy was an unfortunate birthday present. Jordan began having strong seizures on the actual day of her seventh birthday. She ended up in the hospital for a week thereafter. That’s when the doctors decided it was time to get more aggressive in the fight with the tumors, and Little Buddy found a home.

Eleven years later, it amuses Jeanette and I whenever Jordan needs to be connected to an IV. The nurses are always surprised about how small a needle is required. Our seventeen year-old young lady has a child-size port. That’s the moment when they realize how long she’s been in her battle with cancer. And they are usually amazed that the port has never had to be replaced.

Well … Little Buddy stopped working a few months ago. It is now time to say goodbye. And he will not be replaced. The latest MRI indicates that Jordan’s tumors are stable. They have not changed in size or shape for the last four years; which means that there’s really no need for Jordan to have a port anymore. It’s one more step towards a normal life. One that we hope persists forever.

In a couple of weeks, Jordan will go in for surgery. Removing a port is a pretty routine procedure, except with Jordan nothing is ever routine. Because Little Buddy has been in her body for so long, there is a chance that a lot of tissue has bound him close to her. They’ve literally grown together. While there is not great risk involved, it may require a little more work than usual. But Jordan is happy about their separation, and unbothered by the reality of another surgery.

Speaking of surgery, her legs are healing well and she grows stronger every day. She recently transitioned to walking casts. For the first few days, every step was painful and stiff. But now she’s powering along with an impressive gait. We have every reason to believe that the surgery on her feet will greatly improve her long-term mobility. The proof will unfold when she begins physical therapy about a month from now. That’s when the real work begins.

Her spirit is delightful these days. Grace is a word I often use to describe my daughter. She has managed every twist and turn of this year in good humor and with abundant courage. I am so proud of her. And I think she is proud of herself. Throughout her journey she has longed for more control and independence in her life. Each time she overcomes an obstacle she proves to herself that she has both—that control and independence are a state of mind. The decisions she has made about her own body this year have proven to be great liberators. She has powered through and thrived and impressed us all in her resolve.

And she did it all without any help from Little Buddy. So it’s time for him to go.