I admitted a 16 year old patient last evening to our Pediatric Intensive Care. I speak of her because she was such a heroic brave polite example of what a teenager can be even though she was scared out of her wits. This young woman lives with her elderly grandmother who is her legal guardian. She spoke politely of her divorced parents, but explained that they were not emotionally mature enough to raise a child. WOW!
This patient was brought to the Emergency room for headaches four weeks ago and at that time it was felt she had the flu. Thankfully, her grandmother took her again to the Emergency room last evening because the headache had not subsided, and now the girl was experiencing double vision. Long story short, she has a mass in her brain. Again I say WOW. Now this 16 year old is told she has a brain tumor... could be cancer, might be benign, most likely is cancer... MRI in the am to see it more clearly... possible surgery, possible radiation, might need chemotherapy, could loose your hair..... all of this in a matter of a few hours. And although she had her grandmother and an auntie with her, she was the most mature adult in the room. And the best part is she wants to be a writer. Talk about an instant connection to her nurse alias wanna be writer me.
We sent the family home to get sleep and recoup for the tough day ahead. And then she asked me questions. All appropriate questions from a patient who was just told she may have cancer, but questions you expect from the parent at this point, not the child. And 16 years old is still a child. We talked about her school, she is a junior in ROTC. We talked about her grades, her interests, and her writing. And she asked about her hair.... Would she loose it? A really important question from a teenager. And when I told her she might depending on what they find and what they treat her with, her answer was...." Well, they have some really cute wigs. I will just have to get one."
Heroic, maybe not yet, but I can see it before this treatment is over. Brave, definitely, any teen that can maturely discuss their cancer and treatment and their future after only a few hours of information is BRAVE in my books. Polite, absolutely, I have not met a more gracious teen in quite some time. Will I follow her case? You bet. This young woman has much to give and I will follow her progress closely and pray daily for a positive recovery. But first, I bought her a pretty journal and a great pen. After all, she is a fellow writer wanna be and I think she will teach me a thing or two about living.