When my daughter, Abigail, was five, she was diagnosed with leukemia. Abby was scared and we tried our best to explain to her why she was sick, but it was a difficult time for our family. She underwent treatment after treatment and would show signs of improving only to be told that the cancer was still there. She was weak and tired all the time, and so scared of the illness that she avoided participating in her favourite activities such as soccer.
One day, during yet another chemotherapy treatment in the oncology ward, an older woman entered the hospital room and smiled at us. She couldn’t have been more than 60 but she looked much older because of her illness. She sat down on the hospital bed and told my daughter a story about how a friend had taken her for a flight in an airplane that day, her first flight ever. While she described how the Earth looked from the sky, Abby closed her eyes and I saw her smile for the first time during treatment.
When the nurse came in to begin the woman’s treatment, Abby was surprised to find out that she was sick too and hadn’t let it stop her from flying. The woman said, “This cancer isn’t going to be the end of me. If it can’t kill me, it sure can’t stop me doing what I want.” Fortunately my daughter agreed, and promptly announced that she intended to be a pilot when she grew up.