Heroes come in all shapes and sizes.
Meet Casey, age 11. She’s one of my heroes. And she’s legendary.
I met Casey through a friend who is her pediatric hospice nurse. My friend knows that I love to help people, especially hospice patients, write affirming letters to the important people in their lives. She told Casey and her mom about my calling, and they thought that writing letters might be something Casey would enjoy doing.
Over the last 6 weeks, I’ve visited Casey several times at her home. I bring along my laptop, portable printer, and special paper. And Casey dictates her letters to me. So far she’s written 6 letters with my typing help and one that she did herself using my laptop. More on that one later.
Most people need some prompting to identify the qualities they want to affirm in others. Not Casey. She knows what she loves about these people. She dictates and I type. And she’s written beautiful letters to her mom and dad, her sister, her tutor, a special neighbor, and a beloved aunt.
Casey is what some would describe as an “old soul.” She is incredibly well-mannered and has the kind of wisdom that can only be a by-product of great suffering.
Recently, I interviewed Casey because I wanted to share some of her wisdom with you.
What would you like people to know about you?
That I try to be as kind as I can be, and that I do my best every day to make it worthwhile.
How long have you had cancer?
Since I was 5.
What type of cancer do you have?
What’s it like to be a child with cancer?
It’s very difficult, especially in the beginning. As a kid, you don’t know much about what’s going on and you get nervous and frustrated.
What’s the hardest part of having cancer?
All the medicine and treatments.
Is it scary?
What scares you?
The risk of death with cancer. And the treatments.
How were you treated at school?
Kids at school would stare at me sometimes. I felt like an outsider. Before I got cancer, I had been bullied some and I was scared I would be bullied once I got cancer. I wasn’t, but it was awkward sometimes.
This may sound like a strange question, but have you seen any good come from the cancer?
I met my best friend Anise at school after I got cancer. I might not have met her otherwise. (Anise now lives in France but recently came to visit Casey.)
Have people been kind to you?
Lots of people have been very kind.
Why did you want to write letters?
So people would know how I feel about them.
What would you say to another child who had just been diagnosed with cancer?
Keep looking forward. Look at the positives.
Very wise words from an 11 year old. And I can personally attest to her kindness. The seventh letter she wrote…the one she typed herself…was to me. It was an absolutely beautiful letter telling me the things she loves about me. Talk about affirmation! And such incredible kindness! That letter will be fuel for my soul in the days and years to come.
Last Fall, I shared the story of the “Legendary” Giving Key that had been presented to me. (Here’s a link to the blog post: www.leavenothingunsaid.com/blog/legend-her-own-mind) The idea behind a Giving Key is that the word inscribed on a key reflects a quality you see in the recipient of the necklace, but that they may not see in themselves. At some point, the recipient then passes the key along to someone else who needs to be affirmed in a similar way. Such a beautiful concept.
The morning of my most recent visit with Casey, I knew that she was the person who needed to receive my “Legendary” Giving Key necklace. She is legendary. And kind. And so brave and inspiring.
Consider these words from her Instagram profile: “Beauty comes from within. No matter what you look like, it is your inner beauty that matters. With every friend you make, your inner beauty grows bigger.” What a wonderful perspective. Have you ever thought that you would grow more beautiful as a result of reaching out to others in friendship? I hadn’t. But it is so true.
Casey is beautiful, inside and out.
Please keep her in your prayers. And may her words serve as a plumb line for us all:
“That I try to be as kind as I can be, and that I do my best every day to make it worthwhile.”
My legendary friend, Casey.
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