Wednesday, March 25, 2009

“I Can”, by Isabella Icatar

I meant to post this a while ago, but never had a chance.  While at the hospital, Isabella wrote a book.  Click the pages below to see a larger view of each page.

I Can


By Isabella Icatar100_0743

I can read books.


I can play a lap harp. (See video)


I can spell words.


I can play Uno.


I can throw a ball.


I can write with both hands.


I can be brave.


That last one is especially touching as it shows Isabella getting a shot in her leg.  She even got down to the details of showing the red blood in the syringe.  This amount of self-awareness from Isabella is both surprising, yet saddening.  All a 5 year old kid should be worried about is learning how to read or wondering when their next play date is, not learning how to swallow pills or remembering which leg gets the shot this time.

When Isabella first started the chemo, we would praise her and tell her how brave she was, and she would immediately cry.  My pseudo-psycho-analysis was that Isabella didn’t want to be “brave” because she had come to the conclusion that you can only be brave during bad times, or that something bad must be happening that warrants courage.  I explained to her that it was ok to be both brave and scared at the same time, and that sometimes, both mommy and me are scared too.  So for a while, we tried not to use the word “brave”.

Julianne and I have discussed how much we think Isabella knows is going on and we are surprised at how much she picks up just from random conversations we have.  Once when I was with Isabella in the hospital she just asked out of the blue, “What is in my head again?”  I then explained that she had some unhealthy brain cells in her head that caused her headaches and that although we got most of them out, she needs to take the medicine to get the rest of the unhealthy cells out so that the healthy cells can keep growing.  We emphasized to her that she did nothing wrong that caused this and that sometimes it just happens.  She then started feeling the scar on her head and asked if that’s where they took the tumor out and I said yes.  She wanted to see where they took the tumor from, so I took a picture of her head and showed it to her.  I then asked her if she wanted to see an example of them taking a tumor out of someone’s head and she said Yes!  I found a video on Youtube and Isabella was absolutely fascinated by the video and she watched it several times.

That interaction plus her drawing marked a change in Isabella.

Pretty soon, we’ll be back at the hospital and Isabella’s going to have to be brave again.  We’ll bring her book with her to remind her that she can be brave and we’ll all be there to be brave, and hopefully a little less scared, together.


  1. That is a very beautiful book, Isabella!

  2. Isabella that was a great story. What an artist you are. Your parents and you are some of the bravest people I know.


    Katie Vasquez


Feel free to leave a message for Isabella.