The Truthful Tongue

Posted November 6, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Landscape with Birds by Lucien Freud

My fall made a fortune of the alphabet
The small city trembled like a drum
Opera chants smelled like garlic
The sky looked like a clump of salt
Your secret was a gift to the tongue
The continent filled with ashes
The ink slipped into my tongue
The metaphor shot tomorrow into a million pieces
The flame jumped into a storm of Oklahoma stars
The crowd leaped over the fortune of gifts
In the morning my tongue swallowed my flute
Friday was born by laughing and remembering
My spitted truth made a knot in my tongue

by Luis, 7th grade
Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers

Orange and Black

Posted October 31, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

When I bite into an orange, the juice tickles my tongue.
Cockroaches crawl in the dark corners.

Pumpkins grow in big, beautiful pumpkin patches.
Bats fly in caves like the wind.

I see goldfish swimming in beautiful ponds.
The sky at night makes my eyes twinkle.

When I have a bite of tomato soup, it soothes my throat.
Licorice is my favorite candy of them all.

Tony the Tiger has the best cereal I’ve tasted.
Cows’ spots are the darkest shade of black I’ve ever seen.

Cheetos are the best chips I’ve eaten.
Car wheels speed down the long, black road.

When the sun sets, it is always the best time of the day.
I do the best tap dance with my tap shoes in my house.

Ronald McDonald’s hair is a very dark shade of red.
When I pick up dirt with my hands, it makes my fingers stick together.

Doxorubicin drips slowly into the IV to kill my cancer cells.
I have the best handwriting on a chalk board.

Carrots are my favorite type of vegetables.
I see black cats running to my house on Halloween night.

by Emily, 2nd grade
Texas Children’s Cancer Center

My Passions

Posted January 12, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Radio Lollipop logo

Image via Wikipedia

I love music because it clears my mind.  When I’m in a good mood, I listen to Indie music on the radio.  The first time I ever heard Radio Lollipop (a fully equipped radio station staffed by a team of volunteers at Texas Children’s Hospital) was January 31, 2011.  I was in a bed feeling down on the 9th floor.  It was just my second day, and I was thinking about home.  When the music came on, I listened for a while.  Music is a way to daydream for me.  Someday I’d like to be a professional cello player. I learned how to play in 5th grade, and I feel in a better place when I play.  I had to quit when I got sick, but I want to start again.  Writing is another art that I like.  I use it to express myself.  I don’t share everything I write, but I think it helps me to get it out.  I remember I wrote a story once about two kids in an enchanted forest.  I don’t get writer’s block usually.  The words just flow out and onto the paper.  If I could tell people something, I would say that there are lots of ways to express yourself and to go out and find your passion.  For me, it is music and writing.

By Jasmine, 10th grade

I Will Not Be Moved

Posted November 11, 2010 & filed under Notebook.

WITS Writer Melanie Malinowski guides Jasmine through a writing lesson during her dialysis treatment at Texas Children’s Hospital.

When I was six years old, I never would have imagined that I would be sick. I have a kidney disease called Lupus Nephritus, an inflammation of the kidney caused by systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a disease of the immune system. SLE usually causes harm to the skin, joints, kidneys, and brain. Luckily for me, it did not cause harm to my brain or my skin or joints, but to my kidneys instead. From the time I was six to the age I am now-fifteen-I have taken numerous pills to keep my lupus under control. I have been through chemo-therapy and all kinds of treatments that might help my kidney disease. When everything seems hopeless, I pray and listen to 89.3 KSBJ.

Many songs touch my heart; however, one song is my favorite: “Will Not Be Moved” by Natalie Grant. This song says you may stumble or fall down, but you will not be moved. I can associate with this because this song tells me that I will go through problems, and it will get hard, yet it is up to me to persevere. Without my faith in the Lord and my family on my side, I would not be as strong as I am. When no one is listening, and I am ready to give up, the Lord shows me that He has not forgotten me.

When I was twelve years old, my lupus became out of control, and my kidneys shut down. Now I dialyze three times a week at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. In the beginning, I felt like the world was coming to an end. I kept asking myself, what have I done to deserve this? I lost weight, could not keep nutrients down, and was not able to go to school. The doctors thought I would need a feeding tube for nutrients. I was in the hospital for three months. The doctors lost all hope in me, telling my mother that I might not make it. My mother started to pray and put oil on my head. She played gospel music in the room. While listening to the music, I started to have more strength. Later, I was able to keep food down and to gain weight. My labs improved, shocking the doctors, but not my mother and me.

It was a miracle.

I have had countless surgeries. I had a catheter in my chest to do treatments. My sacred body was invaded and painful. With the catheter, I was not able to have a life. The line must not get wet, so when I would bathe myself, I would cover the catheter with shields called Aqua Guards. I did not like it. I have a fistula now, inside my arm. With this, I can do anything. I swim, sweat, and play as I want. I can be normal.

When your kidneys shut down, you are limited to the amount of fluid you can have, and you have to balance your calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.  You would think with having to go to school, take my medicine, and do homework that I would have given up, but my song, “Will Not Be Moved,” helps me and motivates me to keep on going.

I must work even harder in school than others, to show that I belong.  I try to do work and projects ahead of time since I never know when I am going to be sick. I focus on my courses and study so much. My teachers tell me that they wish they had more students like me who are determined.   At school, sometimes I am bullied, but I ignore my peers.  I have days where I am sad and happy.  I do wish for more friends and to be normal some days.  When I am like this, I start to pray and talk to my mother, and she tells me that this too shall past.

Right now, I am on dialysis, but later on I will not be.  I will have my kidney transplant, and I will be able to have a normal life.  I will be able to go shopping and eat and drink whatever I want whenever I want.  Right now, I just have to have faith and know that my time is coming.  Just like the song says, I will keep on going and never give up.

By Jasmine, age 13

Jasmine has been working with WITS Writer Melanie Malinowski since age 11. Her essay, “I Will Not Be Moved,” received an Honorable Mention in the Kidney Times.

How I Feel Today

Posted August 20, 2010 & filed under Notebook.

Today I feel so happy.
I love candy.
I don’t know why I’m happy.

Oh, I am happy because
I stuck myself today.

Sometimes, I feel split in half,
like a sunset with beautiful flowers and
a frost with so much horror and death.

But today I feel like dancing,
like the couple in Paris and
playing like a Jack Russell terrier
and eating much too much candy
which the hospital won’t give me.

And I am sipping a cup of tea.

By DeAndrea, age 12

Collage made by the author and published in the anthology, My Hand is So Complicated and My Mind is a Mystery, published by Writers in the Schools and Texas Children’s Hospital

WITS is Mentioned in the New York Times

Posted January 7, 2008 & filed under Notebook.

ishaphotowanita-purplesongscanfly.jpgToday the New York Times published a great story about Purple Songs Can Fly, an organization founded by Anita Kruse that helps young cancer patients write, record, and produce original music. Writers in the Schools collaborates with Purple Songs at Texas Children’s Cancer Center. Both WITS and Purple Songs are part of the Arts in Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Hospital led by Carol Herron. You can read more about the collaboration between WITS and Purple Songs in an article by WITS Writer Marcia Chamberlain here.