October, 2001 | Jan Harley

An important oncology team meeting was approaching in which the team was going to fill us in on the bottom-line of the treatment of this bone cancer.  Up until now, we had learned about the clinical trial for osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer) and were absorbing as much medical terminology as we could obtain in such a short period of time.  I am sure the process is designed this way to ease the patient and family into the complexities and realities of the medical issues at hand.

Nicole, her Dad and I were all packed in the oncology office for the anticipated team meeting.  The doctors began the discussions and like prize stallions bolting out of the horse racing gates at the sound of the gun, the doctors began explaining to Nicole again in detail the severity and survival statistics of her cancer.  They proceeded to tell us all about the chemotherapy schedules, methods of injection and what to expect.  Based on their experience of this kind of bone cancer there was a possibility that she may have to have her leg amputated. Amputated? As in cut off?

The room was suddenly silent.  I could hardly breath.  I again choked back the tears and felt myself riding the tidal wave into the tunnel of anxiety.  I looked over at Nicole to gauge her response to all of this.  She had her head in her hands and she was weeping and rocking back and forth in her chair.  I wanted so badly to go to her and hug her, but I couldn’t find my armor of strength and I was frozen in time like a deer caught in the headlights.

”I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die”, Nicole blubbered over and over again.  I felt her pain; every molecule of it surged through my body.  I silently prayed for her comfort and peace. I imagined shouting into a huge megaphone, “Calling all guardian angels! Please be on duty this minute and surround Nicole with your love and comfort.”

It seemed like an eternity as we all watched Nicole’s reaction to this news.  She slowly lifted up her head and exposed her tear stained cheeks. Like the sun that comes out so brightly after a summer rain, a calm came over her and she stated very succinctly, “I would rather have my leg cut off, than to die and not live a good life.”

Was this Nicole speaking? My sweet, young, innocent 10-year-old daughter? Or was it some whispering from a divine source? I was truly amazed and taken back at Nicole’s profound insight and amazing courage.  Right then and there, Nicole became my bold and brave hero.