Do Pray

If you’re the praying sort, do pray for Kayla.


Kayla was one of the first students I taught (and one of the most excited about learning) – you may remember her from what I wrote before about her fight against cancer.  I wish I could say that all is well now.  I wish I could write: “Stand up and clap, folks – the cancer is gone.”  But I can’t.

Just last week, Kayla went in for a PET scan which showed that despite all the treatment thus far, the cancer was still growing.  On her blog, she writes:

The fact that this new cancer grew while I was still getting therapy, there is very little chance at this point that they will be able to make my disease go away completely. Our goal has now become to keep my disease stable for as long as possible. Being totally blunt, we don’t know if that means six months or six years or six decades…

Dr. Cramer told me today that we would have this conversation once and then move forward and not discuss it anymore unless I wanted to bring it back up. He told me that he felt like I should decide what is most important to me. I need to think about if I were to pass away from neuroblastoma, what it is that I’d like to accomplish or experience between now and then, and we would adjust treatment accordingly.

No one wants to hear this news – and certainly not someone so young.  I’m reminded of a writing assignment I give my students every year in one of my classes: “If you were to find out that you only have 24 more hours to live, what would you do with the time?”

Some students will write the typical carefree adventure-seeking responses: go skydiving, steal a Ferrari and drive 200 mph, party till I die – answers which always distress me; and others will be more thoughtful.  It’s those latter responses that always fill me with hope: writing letters to all the people who mean something to me, personally giving everything I own to people who need it, getting my friends together to go caroling at nursing homes.

When someone so young is given 6 months or 6 years more to live, it’s a slap in the face – a not-so-quiet reminder that this life (for all of us) is temporary.  That some month, some year, some decade will be our last – and it may be this one.

“I guess it comes down to a simple choice really,” says Andy in The Shawshank Redemption, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”


Fortunately, Kayla is full of spunk and has a lot of life left in her yet.  How much that lot is and how many months or years it will last we don’t know, but do pray for her as she faces a question the rest of us never want to.

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