Parent, Teacher, Activist
Tatum is a precious little girl who used to live down the street from us. Tatum’s mom, Mandy, posted this picture on Facebook recently, and I thought, “Now there is beauty.” Forget photoshop. Forget trying to be perfect. Forget wasting even one more moment feeling bad about not looking perfect. Instead, let’s learn to find our beauty in our strength, in our character, in our love. I asked Mandy if she would share Tatum’s story with us. Here’s what she had to say:
“Tatum Kate was diagnosed with leukemia in July 2009, just after her 3rd birthday. She was so little then, yet she faced each new challenge of her treatment with strength and a strong-will to keep living. She had almost completed her treatment when she relapsed. The leukemia returned, isolated in her spinal fluid.
She began another two-year plan without looking back. On the day of her relapse, as her dad and I wiped tears away, Tatum looked at us and said “Let’s get a move on.” She has always been tough, curious and independent. Leukemia has only enhanced these qualities in her and made her more determined and strong. She always looks forward and has led the way for us all.
Tatum has lost her hair more than once. Her body has often been changed dramatically from different medications. Yet her beauty shines completely from within her heart. At the hospital she is friends with many different kinds of children. She has learned kindness and compassion and could care less about outward appearances in herself or others. Her favorite thing to do is play and she is happy to be a part of a diverse world.
Her beads in the picture are called Beads of Courage. Each bead represents a part of her treatment. There are beads for blood draws, clinic visits, fever/isolation, hospital stays, infusions, spinal procedures, radiation, hair loss and a variety of other important moments. She has 6 strands and counting. She wears them with pride and her slight smile says it all. Complete confidence. She owns us all!”
I was so thankful to Mandy for sharing Tatum’s story of courage with me. I’m writing this as I get ready to have a procedure that I hope will help my heart function more effectively. You see, it is failing. I’m 42 years old, and my heart is failing. For some reason we don’t understand, it’s become weakened. Right about now I need one of Tatum’s Beads of Courage.
She inspires me, this little girl with her “Let’s get a move on.” I’m ready to move forward from the tired constraints of perfection and into accepting myself where I am. I’m ready to let go of trying to meet all of the ideals that others put before me, whether it’s having a perfect body, or a white smile, or being the perfect mom, and just embrace being the best me that I can be. Are you ready to join us? Okay, Tater, here we go.