Three or so years ago, I had a letter from the Starlight Foundation through the door. It was about a little girl aged about four called Lucy. I can’t remember all the details and can’t find it on Starlight archives, but she had some awful illness and had to suffer daily painful procedures. Starlight grants wishes to seriously ill children. Little Lucy’s wish was that she could be a fairy for one day. Lucy had not been able to spend much time with her friends due to her compromised immunity. During a period of slightly boosted immunity, Starlight arranged for a wonderful party to happen around her with all her friends. The aim of the Foundation is to ‘surpass all expectations.’ Again, can’t remember the details but recall that she sat in a stunning dress on a specially made fairy throne. Magical displays popped around her. Treats abounded.
The letter was written by her mother, so grateful for this moment of real joy in her daughter’s life. By the time I got to the end I was a wreck. Chloe walked in from school and said ‘What’s the matter?’ I passed her the letter with a howl. She too started to wail. Tabby came in, read the letter, and burst into tears. We told Alfie and Bashi the story of Little Lucy and they sobbed. After a bit, Fred came in, bemused, to our rivers of tears. We passed him the letter. His lip wobbled but I don’t think he boohooed. He’s made of stern stuff is Fred. Then his face caved in and he moaned ‘Poor Little Lucy. Poor little thing. A fai-hai-hai-ry for one day-hay-hay.’ We all boohooed together.
Chloe wrote a song for Little Lucy. It’s called ‘Little Lucy.’
Sadly, we never managed to send it to Lucy. We should have. She would have loved it. It would have made her better.
Anyway, today I had to have this little procedure where they use a needle guided by ultrasound to put a tiny metal clip into the middle of whatever cancerous lump you may have, to mark its position. It was interesting rather than unpleasant.
The only hiccup came when the nurse said ‘Just pop your clothes on the chair.’
I had a long cardi draped over one arm, my bag on the other shoulder and, (intertwined with these and my new snood from Accessorize), my crocheted phone pouch with long string that I got from a second-hand shop in Walden (I know, but do I drop my phone in cups of tea Chloe? or have other people’s phones fly out of my pocket when I’m on the waltzers, Alfie? or smash my phone while falling flat on my face running up Bells Hill, Bashi?), plus a very stylish cross-over bra that can only come off over the head. I flailed about a bit, stumbling and swearing before the whole lot came off in one big flurrry, dislodging my carefully turbanned baldness concealer (a head-scarf). Luckily the nurse had gone off to look for the doctor at that point so my Miranda moment was performed only to myself. I jammed the turban back on my head.
BTdubs though, the young chap who did the procedure was a tad unnerving. The bottom half of his face smiled in a very keen way. I wondered if my turban was on wonky. He said, ‘I’m not one to faff around. Don’t like faffing. Give me a job to do and I’m your man. Not good at the faffing bit.’
By faffing I wonder if he meant the gentle relaxing chit-chat some professionals manage to indulge in while rubbing gel into your breast. I was thinking, ‘A bit of faffing would be quite acceptable under the circs. And please don’t be so keen that you drive the needle straight into my heart.’
I didn’t say it though.
I suspect that deep down, he is pretty bloody stressed. Maybe he’s been forced to work most of the day, most of the month even, with a real faffer. God knows, I would hate that, so I forgave him his bedside manner.
He did the job briskly with short sharp bulletins. ‘Going in, same nick as last time.’ Put in local anaesthetic, ‘Numb the area, little sting’. Gave it all of two seconds to work. Slid the long needle in ‘Pushing, pushing.’ Twisted and aimed needle ‘More pushing.’ There was a satisfied click as he deposited the clip. He pulled the needle out. The nurse then put lots of steri-strips over the tiny wound.
Even though in the grand scheme of things this was a paltry little procedure, it got me thinking about all the Little Lucies having unavoidably horrible things done to them. People say I am being brave. I’m not AT ALL brave. I’m a grown-up. By the age of 45 you can put discomforts that are definitely for your own good in their proper context. But those children are so young. I know it’s obvious and all that, but IT’S NOT FAIR. And that’s why Starlight and Make a Wish and other organisations like them are fantastic. My friend Janet’s little niece has Leukaemia and her wish was to go to the Harry Potter studios. She met Harry, Ron and Hermione who were, (I have it on authority) extremely kind and chatted to her for ages.
If you go on the Starlight website, beware. You will cry.
Oops, I feel a fund-raiser brewing. I have a friend who improvises on the piano to old silent movies. It is the most fabulously thrilling thing ever. It will be a candle-lit cabaret set-up with drinks and food…this event will sell out so get your tickets fast.