One mom is sharing her daughter’s story of survival after her daughter was told to cover up her cancer scars. The mom, Michelle Russell posted a heartfelt photo with a caption detailing what her family had gone through. Cancer is such a scary beast and it’s amazing that Russell and her daughter have come away stronger from it.
Russell’s daughter, Claire Rose, was diagnosed with a bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. Cancer made childhood difficult for Claire and she couldn’t enjoy most activities that other children do. According to Russell, “She didn’t know how to ride a bike, had never stepped into a classroom, and spent most of her days in a tutu.”
The little girl would go on to survive more suffering and pain in the first years of life than most people experience in a lifetime.
In the post, Russell said, “She would attend funerals of friends she met and loved, who were lost to the same disease she was fighting. She would lose her beautiful head of blonde curls, nearly all of her muscle mass, and her childlike innocence.”
“Her tumor was located in the middle of her back, between two ribs, touching her spine.”
The aggressive treatment included seventeen rounds of chemotherapy in a year.
Russell recounted the brutal treatment, “Multiple surgeries, including the removal of four ribs, part of her spinal sheath, and a spinal fusion.”
“Finally, she was declared in remission. I took home a frail, pale, bald, five-year-old, covered in scars.”
Four years have passed and Claire is still in remission.
Russell says that time has healed many wounds. “Though small for 8 years old, she is beautiful, healthy, muscular, outgoing, funny, a talented competitive dancer, and an honor roll student. She is an amazing overcomer.”
“In many ways, she has healed.”
She may appear healed, but there’s still healing to do.
“Every so often the realization that she is still here, while some children are not, weighs heavy on her brave heart,” Russell admits.
“Then, a few weeks ago, on a rushed morning, I threw her shorts and a tank top and asked her to get dressed. She quietly asked me for a different shirt. Oblivious and in a hurry, I said, ‘Why? You love that one, just put it on, we gotta go…'”
“A boy at camp … told me I shouldn’t wear shirts that show my scars. He said they are scary.”
Russell could barely believe what her daughter told her. She described the emotions, “For a brief and irrational moment, I debated finding said boy and giving him some scars of his own … but quickly realized this boy likely had NO IDEA what this girl has been through. ‘I think what he meant, was that, the thought of what you must have gone through, to get those scars … is scary. Your scars are beautiful.’
“She didn’t seem convinced. Tears formed in her eyes,” Russell describes.
Russell sat down beside her and pulled her close and said, “You have an incredible story. You should be so proud of what you overcame.”
“I just want to be normal,” Claire said, crying.
“I want you to think about all the little girls like you that you have met, who are fighting cancer like you did, who will have scars like you … do you want them to cover them up? Hide them?” Russell asked.
“No!!,” she exclaimed, wiping away her tears. “I don’t want them to be sad.”
“Did you know that by being proud of your scars, you’re inspiring them to be proud of theirs too?”
According to Russell, “That did it. A small smile. She reached over and grabbed the shirt, and walked out of the room. A little taller, in my eyes.”
The experience gave Russell an idea.
Russell felt inspired, saying, “Let’s show Claire, and the world, that being beautiful isn’t about hair, makeup, or clothes. Beauty isn’t perfection.”
“Real beauty, is … raw. Real beauty is a little girl who experienced unthinkable physical and emotional trauma, and came out the other side … stronger, and with a deep appreciation of the fragility that is this life. A little body that was once physically battered by surgeries and chemo, and now dances gracefully. That’s beauty.”
Russell says her daughter’s body may be scarred, but it tells her story. A story of hope and perseverance.
Russell ends the post saying, “I wish no child, or adult, would ever feel the need to cover their scars. If they do, I hope they remember that by not covering them, they are inspiring an 8-year-old girl to embrace her little body that beat cancer. Let’s teach our kids that imperfection is beauty. That bravery is beauty. That compassion is beauty.”
This is really an inspiring story. We wish the best for Claire and her amazing mom!
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