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Mother's Beautiful Response After Boy Tells Her Daughter To Cover Cancer Scars

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“My daughter was diagnosed with cancer at four years old. Four. Years. Old. Bone cancer, Ewings Sarcoma.”

Harrowing words written by a mother who has seen her daughter go through more during her short time on this earth than many of us will face in our lifetimes.

The story of Claire Russell’s fight against bone cancer is one of courage, strength, and beauty. Her mother, Michelle Russell, shared her daughter’s journey on Instagram, as well as in an article for Love What Matters.

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“She didn’t know how to ride a bike, had never stepped into a classroom, and spent most of her days in a tutu,” Russell wrote. “In the next year, she would endure more pain and suffering than most adults see in a lifetime.”

 

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My daughter was diagnosed with cancer at four years old. Four. Years. Old. Bone cancer, Ewings Sarcoma. She didn’t know how to ride a bike, had never stepped into a classroom, and spent most of her days in a tutu. In the next year, she would endure more pain and suffering than most adults see in a lifetime. She would attend funerals of friends she met and loved, who were lost to the same disease she was fighting. She would lose her beautiful head of blonde curls, nearly all of her muscle mass, and her childlike innocence. Her tumor was located in the middle of her back, between two ribs, touching her spine. Treatment was brutal. Seventeen rounds of chemotherapy over the course of a year. Multiple surgeries, including the removal of four ribs, part of her spinal sheath, and a spinal fusion. Finally, she was declared in remission. I took home a frail, pale, bald, five year old, covered in scars. That was now three years ago. If you met my daughter today, this story would likely shock you. Though small for 8 years old, she is beautiful, healthy, muscular, outgoing, funny, a talented competitive dancer, and an honor roll student. She is an amazing overcomer. In many ways, she has healed. Yet, there is some healing that will never come. Every so often the realization that she is still here, while some children are not, weighs heavy on her brave heart. Then, a few weeks ago, on a rushed morning, I threw her shorts and a tank top and asked her to get dressed. She quietly asked me for a different shirt. Oblivious and in a hurry, I said “Why? You love that one, just put it on, we gotta go…” “A boy at camp…told me I shouldn’t wear shirts that show my scars. He said they are scary.” For a brief and irrational moment, I debated finding said boy and giving him some scars of his own…but quickly realized this boy likely had NO IDEA what this girl has been through. “I think what he meant, was that, the thought of what you must have gone through, to get those scars…is scary. Your scars are beautiful.” She didn’t seem convinced. Tears formed in her eyes. I sat down beside her and pulled her close. “You have an incredible story. (Continued in next post.)

A post shared by Claire Rose (@prayersforclaire) on

The story grows even more heartbreaking. This little girl attended funerals of others who lost the same battle she was fighting.

Do you have scars that tell a story?

She said goodbye to her hair. She lost muscle mass. Her days were spent in hospital rooms, preparing for surgeries and treatments.

 

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Warrior Princess

A post shared by Claire Rose (@prayersforclaire) on

“Treatment was brutal,” Russell said. “Seventeen rounds of chemotherapy over the course of a year. Multiple surgeries, including the removal of four ribs, part of her spinal sheath, and a spinal fusion. Finally, she was declared in remission.”

Over three years have passed since that day. While Claire is facing happier days ahead, her body still bore the scars of her past.

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Let me tell you a story about hope. About a little girl, who survived the unimaginable. Who, before she even had a chance to step into a Kindergarten classroom, fought cancer. Who now lives with a soul on fire, seeking justice for the friends she’s lost along the way. Who at 8 years old, understands the fragility that is this life, better than most adults. A girl who uses dance as her therapist, and leaves every ounce of hurt and frustration on the floor. A girl who is here to show the world that prayers get answered, that HOPE is alive. #cancerfree #cancersurvivor #curechildhoodcancer #hopeisalive #stronggirls #fierceagainstchildhoodcancer #liveyourpurpose #? #inspire #havefaith

A post shared by Claire Rose (@prayersforclaire) on


The brave girl with a passion for dance was proud of those scars, too. A reminder of all she’d fought and faced at such a young age.

And then one day a boy at camp made a comment about Claire’s scars. He told her they were scary and that she should cover them up.

 

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(Continued from previous post) You should be so proud of what you overcame. “ “I just want to be normal,” she sobbed. “I want you to think about all the little girls like you that you have met, who are fighting cancer like you did, who will have scars like you…do you want them to cover them up? Hide them?” “No!!” She exclaimed, wiping away her tears. “I don’t want them to be sad.” “Did you know that by being proud of your scars, you’re inspiring them to be proud of theirs too?” That did it. A small smile. She reached over and grabbed the shirt, and walked out of the room. A little taller, in my eyes. A few mornings later, I woke up with an idea. I text my best friend, who happens to be an amazingly talented photographer, and told her of my idea. Let’s show Claire, and the world, that being beautiful isn’t about hair, makeup, or clothes. Beauty isn’t perfection. Real beauty, is…raw. Real beauty is a little girl who experienced unthinkable physical and emotional trauma, and came out the other side…stronger, and with a deep appreciation of the fragility that is this life. A little body that was once physically battered by surgeries and chemo, and now dances gracefully. That’s beauty. Her little body may be scarred, but it tells a story of perseverance and hope. I wish no child, or adult, would ever feel the need to cover their scars. If they do, I hope they remember that by not covering them, they are inspiring an 8 year old girl, to embrace her little body that beat cancer. Let’s teach our kids that imperfection, is beauty. That bravery, is beauty. That compassion, is beauty. September is childhood cancer awareness month ? Photos by @dionnekrausphotography #realbeauty #childhoodcancer #gogold #childhoodcancerawareness #morethan4 #scarsarebeautiful #sheisfierce #stronggirls #ewingssarcoma #cancerfree

A post shared by Claire Rose (@prayersforclaire) on

At first, Russell was angry, as any parent would be. But then she felt a sense of grace and compassion for the boy who had no clue what those scars really meant.

So this amazing mom set the boy’s comment aside and focused on the deeper matter at hand. While Claire looked at her through a blur of tears, Russell told her something so many of us need to hear.

“You have an incredible story,” Russell told her. “You should be so proud of what you overcame … I want you to think about all the little girls like you that you have met, who are fighting cancer like you did, who will have scars like you… do you want them to cover them up? Hide them?”

Of course, Claire didn’t want that, realizing she truly had a remarkable story to tell, that her scars had a remarkable story to tell.

This moment between mother and daughter led to something much bigger. Russell was determined that everyone should know the true meaning of beauty.

“Beauty isn’t perfection. Real beauty, is… raw,” she wrote. “Her little body may be scarred, but it tells a story of perseverance and hope. I wish no child, or adult, would ever feel the need to cover their scars.”



Claire hopes the same. In an interview with Hannah and Cailin Loesch on YouTube, the now-9-year-old says, “Keep fighting and keep dreaming.”

You can continue following Claire on her journey by visiting Prayers for Claire on Instagram or by supporting her and others like her through the Forever Fierce Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to cancer research.

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Sarah Carri is an avid reader and social media guru with a passion for truth and life. Her writing has previously been published in print and online by Focus on the Family and other well known media outlets. Her experience in ministry and Disney entertainment gives her a unique perspective on such topics.
Sarah Carri is an avid reader and social media guru with a passion for truth and life. Her writing has previously been published in print and online by Focus on the Family and other well known media outlets. Her experience in ministry and Disney entertainment gives her a unique perspective on such topics.

Sarah's experience as a successful working stay-at-home mom and business owner has given her the chance to write and research often. She stays up to date on the latest in entertainment and offers her views on celebrity stories based on her wide knowledge of the industry. Her success as a former preschool teacher and licensed daycare provider lend to her know-how on topics relating to parenting and childhood education.

Her thoughts on faith and family issues stem from home life and ministry work. Sarah takes time to attend workshops and classes annually that help her to improve and hone her writing craft. She is a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature program and her writing has been acclaimed by ACFW and ECPA.
Education
Institute of Children's Literature, Art Institute of Phoenix (Advertising), University of California Irvine (Theater), Snow College (Early Childhood Education)
Location
Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Entertainment, Faith




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