Little Fake Christmas Trees

By: Jordan C.

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I believe in the healing power of little fake Christmas trees, the kind that you can find at Walgreens, or even some random gas stations. The cheap ones that are made of nylon with bendable twigs. I believe it was the power of a fake Christmas tree that helped Caitlin survive.

The day my mom told me that my friend Caitlin had brain cancer was shocking, to say the least. She told me that the doctors had found a malignant tumor on Caitlin’s brain and were going to operate immediately. Caitlin also required extensive radiology and chemotherapy treatment. Because of this, she couldn’t eat and acquired the few basic vitamins and nutrition she needed through a feeding tube. Caitlin’s weight quickly dropped to 75 pounds.

As time went on, less people came to visit her. The sight of her was terrifying. Caitlin’s cheeks were hollow, her eyes sunken in, her skin so pale that the blue of her veins was her only sign of life. Her head had barely any hair left, there were patches of little peach fuzz in random spots. Caitlin was not beating cancer. Cancer was beating Caitlin.

Caitlin had been stuck in the hospital for 90 days. Unfortunately, she was going to spend her favorite holiday in the hospital. The fact that she was not going to be home for Christmas bothered me. I wanted to help her feel at home.

This is when my mom and I got the idea of the ugly, little fake Christmas tree. A few days before Christmas we ran into the Walgreens right outside of the hospital. We bought the 3-foot “forest green” fake tree. If I were being honest to myself at the time, I would have realized how hideous the thing was, and I wouldn’t have dared taken it to Caitlin. But then my mom and I began to decorate it. We strung the branches with twinkling multi-colored lights. We hung bright spherical ornaments, we even put a star on the top of it. After all the decorating, it actually looked pretty decent.

When I took Caitlin the tree, she giggled at how little it was. She was used to having a 12-foot tree in her home and this 3-foot “miniature bush” couldn’t even compare. But then she became so happy that she had something to remind her of home. The most ironic part was that we were not allowed to plug in the tree for more than 40 minutes because it was not fire proof and was deemed hazardous by the nursing staff. Caitlin thought that was the funniest thing she ever heard of.

Months later, Caitlin beat cancer. The chemotherapy began to work and she hasn’t had a relapse since. It’s Caitlin’s inner strength and her will to live that got her to beat cancer. Sometimes, I like to tell myself that the little fake Christmas tree helped. It brought her a little piece of home that she needed in her most desperate time. I believe that with the healing power of a fake Christmas tree, anyone can beat cancer.