Do What You Want

Giving Up Birthdays for a Friend with Childhood Cancer

by Rebekah Ham
November 5, 2012

Lydia and Sophie, twin sisters, met my daughter Grace in nursery school when they were all 4 years old. The three girls discovered their mutual love of books and make-believe and became fast friends. Play dates are never often enough, but always elaborate, with their use of eve- changing pseudonyms.

Grace (aka Ginny Weasley, Cassiopeia Incorrigible, or Primrose Everdeen) was yanked from the games of childhood when she was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a brain tumor, at age 5. Steroids, surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy…Lydia and Sophie stuck by her through it all. Despite the fear and uncertainty, their love for Grace never wavered. They mailed art, they visited clinic with her, and, with just one inpatient chemotherapy remaining, they created a giant “Almost Done” banner in her honor that covered her hospital room wall.

On September 15, Lydia and Sophie celebrated their 11th birthdays. They invited Grace for a sleepover, and asked all of their friends and family to donate the money they would have spent on gifts to my St. Baldrick’s 46 Mommas Shave for the Brave fundraising in Grace’s honor. The donations totaled $707, making two 11-year-olds my third largest donors of 2012. Lydia and Sophie are remarkable people.

Their mother Marie and I have discussed the intensity of their friendship. She shared that “it’s so hard to put into words what their friendship means… there’s a sense that this relationship is an all-important constant of unwavering love and loyalty in their lives. There is so much that pulls at them and leaves them feeling uncertain as to their status on the planet, but what they have with Grace endures through all of this. Grace is magical and with her they are magical, too. I think that even when they are teenagers, they will still be Harry, Ginny, and Hermione to each other.”

September 20, 2012, marked five years beyond Grace’s cancer diagnosis. Grace continues to struggle with side effects of treatment, but she is doing incredibly well. Her imagination remains vibrant and unscathed. There is love and kindness all around. Her friends are by her side.

Giving up birthday gifts is simple, but the rewards are life-changing. You can help change lives like Grace’s by giving your birthday or by making a donation in her honor. Sign up or Give.