When the radiologist told her she could choose her own music during the treatment, she immediately wanted American Pie. Her mother said no. Don McLean’s classic is about nine minutes long, and each treatment will only last three minutes. She suggested that the doctors could just leave her in the machine until the song ended. Her mother pointed out that they might need to treat other people after her, so she could not stay three times as long as necessary simply to hear the music. She was unimpressed with this logic. She is 5.
When they came by my house after this particular visit to the hospital, she was in a good mood, despite her American Pie plans being thwarted. She actually ate some lunch – a good thing because the last round of chemo left her unwilling to eat and far too thin – and let me kiss her a million times. She likes being kissed a million times, but sometimes her skin is too sensitive and sometimes even kisses hurt.
We snuggled up on the couch while I heard all about the music disagreement. She was back to arguing for American Pie. She may be thin and fragile right now, but she is not easy to push around. I suggested that we create a “radiation playlist,” and we began perusing the music on my phone. She has twelve rounds of three-ish minutes ahead of her. She has to lay completely still so that the radiation hits the exact right spot because, like so much of the treatment, killing the cancer has to be balanced against damaging the rest of her body. If she moves, the radiation might harm her one remaining kidney.
I aimed for quirky. She listened intently – you should see how this kid can concentrate! – and her mother and I laughed to think what the radiologists will make of her choices. Riptide by Vance Joy earned an immediate yes. The line “all my friends are turning green” made her laugh. I don’t think it means the same thing to her as it does to me.
We went through a lot of music. She rejected Adele’s Hello as “too slow”, and I didn’t even bother with typical kids’ songs because she’s not a typical kid. Luckily, we have mostly similar tastes in music. Her current playlist includes
Cantaloop: Flip Fantasia by Us3
Royals by Lorde (because who doesn’t want a tiger on a gold leash?)
Shake It Off by Taylor Swift
Demain by Les Nubians
Dream in Blue by Los Lobos
Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson
Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves
I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by the Proclaimers
I woke up this morning thinking about her, and I immediately knew we should add Cecilia by Simon & Garfunkel. It will have to meet with her approval, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got her number. We’re still two songs short of the dozen we need, so I’m working on some options. My bet is she’ll make her own decisions. That’s just the kind of kid she is.
PS – Her mom reports that she was a little scared to go alone into her CAT scan today, but she requested Shake It Off and aced it.