My daughter gave me a button for Mother’s Day. She made it in school. It says “You are Special” on the front, and then on the back it says “You are 1 in 200,000.” Decorated with the obligatory hearts, she had made her point. Even in school, creating this “fun” assignment – she remembers. I can call it “unique,” “special,” and all sorts of motherly words. But she knows what it means. It means different.
She and I may be the same – in many ways, but not her friends. She can not ask her friends if their breasts hurt as they begin to develop at 8… because in reality she is different in this too. At 8 and a half she stands just shy of 4 foot 9. She weighs 73 pounds and wears a woman’s size 5.5 shoe. All sorts of wild things are happening to her body and I can only pray they are not related to the Cowden’s.
The endocrinologist called it precocious puberty, and was ready to write it off. I asked if she should start to develop close to when I did. She said girls tend to follow the mother. I told her then this was about 2 and a half years too early. She said it was ok. Then I reminded her about the Cowden’s. The tendency toward tumors. Can you reassure me that it is just normal development causing the breast pain I asked? “Well if she were any other child…”
But that’s just the point. She is not any other child. She is 1 in 200,000. With an early diagnosis that is both a blessing and a curse. She will go for blood tests on Saturday. If her blood shows that her hormones have begun puberty – then we should be ok. If they don’t – then we have big problems. A new internet friend whose daughter is now 22 was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 8. Mom refused to accept the answer of precocious puberty without substantiating lab work. Good thing. It saved her little girl’s life. I have to wonder until the blood comes in, could there be a cancer lingering somewhere in her body like there was in this other girl, feeding the hormones – tricking the world? The thought makes me physically ill.
So after the blood tests there will be a breast sonogram, and a pelvic sonogram so the ovaries can be looked at. There will be a test to detect bone age. Maybe I am pushing too hard. Maybe I am pushing just hard enough. I won’t know, really ever. I just have to trust my instincts.
The irony is not lost on me – that on Wednesday I will go for a complete hysterectomy – to eliminate a suspicious polyp in my uterus and some ovarian cysts, and as soon as I get word on when I can drive – I will take my baby to check on all the things I will have already lost – Breasts, uterus, ovaries.
She asks a lot of questions, my very smart 8 year old. She asks how long before she will have to have the surgeries I have had. I want to say, maybe never. But I know that’s probably not realistic. So I keep reminding her that I am 30 years older than she… she has some time (I pray.)
Tomorrow I will go to work, and I will think about her all day. She will go to school and pretend to be just like every other third grader, as she deals with more intese grown up worries than any child should have. She doesn’t want to be different. But she is. And she’s mine. And she may very well be the best kid in the world.
Happy Mother’s Day.