Prisms of Sparkling Light Through Cancer's Storm


Cancer comes with an awful storm, but the prisms of light can make it a little less worse.

Image of a rainbow in a storm.


for Sadie

They wake with questions —

some fun, silly, sweet: Do slugs have blood? Is water wet?

Questions of wonder: Can humans fly? Do we breathe in heaven?

And the sweetest, most tender, as they hold their stuffy frog

named Fernando: He isn’t really alive, is he?

They want him to have a heart, beating

like theirs. They want others to appreciate the small things

as they do, tiny medicine cups and elevator buttons

and shiny beads and spiny patterns on leaves in sunlight.

Their curiosity spans through the turn of each hour

into the next, through long days in the clinic, evenings spent

playing card games and chatting about gravity and the earth,

the stars and constellations, how they have held their spinal fluid

in an MRI and see the vessels of their heart in motion.

We laugh and they paint a pair of birds, fashioning a swirling rainbow

out of ribbons around us, do a jig down the hallway, ask again:

Do I mind staying with them? Is it OK that I help them

in the bath? I move the washcloth gently over their back

as they ponder: What makes soap slippery? Can we travel backwards

in time? I wish for the Delorean, for it to be 1985, to be

seven years old again. The warm water falls over our skin

and we fall silent as suds bloom. They ask: Am I asking

too many questions? I shake my head No, no —

tell them the truth, that they were always an inquisitive child, now

an extraordinary teenager and that question means

they find marvels, that they are a keeper of wonder and life.

In their eyes, I see the echoing glisten of my own tears, my own

terrible fears and magnificent hope. They ask: Am I ticklish?

I smile and reach forward and we tumble

into laughter again, prisms of sparkling light

through cancer’s storm.

I wrote Prisms in March of 2023, while my 14-year-old child, Sadie, was in treatment for medulloblastoma, a form of pediatric brain cancer. As Sadie began to rehabilitate from five brain surgeries and multiple complications, we experienced small joys in the midst of unimaginable grief. It seems unlikely that, while our journey to a cure was far from over, we would find ways to laugh and feel light together. But incredibly, we did.

The fact that we did, even on the hardest days — is a testament to Sadie’s perseverance, curiosity, creative spirit, and remarkable ability to love. It’s also because of the hope we found in the care and assistance provided at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and The Ronald McDonald House of Memphis. It is because of the staff in these places that Sadie is alive today, and that we were able to be together through the darkest year of our lives.

Poetry, music and art were light-paths on our journey to a cure. A year later, we continue to create art to mentally heal. Sadie, now a 15-year-old Survivor —is the embodiment of a prism of rainbow light, giving our family faith that life after pediatric cancer is possible.

This post was written and submitted by Stacie Eirich. The article reflects the views of Eirich and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.

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