By Annabeth Miller.
I have a young friend whose name is Afton. Afton is a spunky, energetic 8-year-old, who loves her Barbie, Beanie Babies, and playing the piano – all the things little girls in the first grade enjoy. Her mother is my best friend and teaches vocal music at our high school and also private piano lessons. Music is very much a part of Afton’s household.
But beyond all of the spunk and energy lies something very serious. Afton has mylodispatia, a serious condition commonly known as “smoldering leukemia”. In addition, she has an immune deficiency. The combination of these conditions in a young child is extremely rare. She has been treated at St. Louis (MO) Children’s Hospital, and at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis,
Every four weeks, Afton receives a treatment for the immune deficiency that in essense “beefs” up her system. She and her mother drive the three hours to themedical center for that treatment. If my schedule allows, I go along. During a recent trip, I put your CD – Girl Scouts Greatest Hits Vol.1, “We Change the World” – into my purse. Afton loves to sing and she knows all sorts of Girl Scout songs – we have been singing on our trips, at ball games, (anywhere!) for quite a while. She knows some of these songs better than some Cadettes and Seniors! She and I have sung everything – from “Grey Squirrel” to “Chocolate Chip Cookies” to “Castle on the River Nile.”
We put the CD in and started listening. When we came to the “Kum Ba Yah” track, Afton went crazy!. The song would go all the way through, and at the end she would ask us to play it again. We had to repeat that track again and again all the way up the highway. When we pulled into the hospital parking garage she was still singing it, and she went into the treatment happy, upbeat and full of energy. The treatment was a breeze – no problems, no tears. And before too long we were right back in the car with a smile on our faces and Kum Ba Yah” on the car stereo.