RENEE MONTAGE, HOST:
It's Friday and, of course then, time for another conversation from StoryCorps. For the past three years, StoryCorps' Legacy Program has given people facing serious illness the chance to record interviews with loved ones and caregivers. Recently, StoryCorps expanded the program to include children. Today, we'll hear one of those interviews. In 2007, Faith Marr was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer on her spine. She was just 4 years old.
That year, she had her first of eight surgeries, replacing her vertebrae with titanium rods. Doctors were uncertain about her chances of survival. Faith is now 10. She came to StoryCorps with her father, Jerris Marr. This is an excerpt of their conversation.
JERRIS MARR: From the very first surgery, when I walked into that ICU, it really, really shocked me. You were so swollen up, and you had a lot of tubes connected to you. I didn't think it was you, and it just was really, really hard to see my baby like that.
FAITH MARR: Yeah.
MARR: I hated that you were in the hospital, and it was incredibly painful for you.
MARR: I couldn't even sit up, it was so painful.
MARR: That's right. But then at the same point, there was a lot of good in it, because I got to spend so much time with you.
MARR: I remember we would get tattoo pens from the gift shop. You would, like, draw little bumblebee on me and a little rose, because that's my favorite flower.
MARR: Yep. From your sternum down to your pelvic bone, you had a pretty good scar, and so we'd make that one into the stem of a flower. And then to the left of that is a scar from your feeding tube during chemo.
MARR: I call it my second bellybutton.
MARR: That's right. And we would turn that one into a butterfly.
MARR: And you promised on my 18th birthday, we would go get a tattoo together.
MARR: Mm-hmm. What do you feel that you've learned from cancer?
MARR: I think I learned that you don't always have to keep, like, your tears in, and you've just got to believe that you can do this. It's turned me into a mini-adult. And my friend, he had brain cancer, and I went up to him, and I'm, like, I know you're scared, but the doctors told me that I won't live, too, and you've got to believe that you can make it. And he just started crying and he hugged me, and his grandma came up, and she hugged hard. So, dad, how do you think I handled this happening to me?
MARR: You're an amazing person, and it's going to be exciting for me to watch you continue to grow and develop into a young lady, because your maturity has done nothing but inspire me to be a better person. And the strength that you demonstrated through so many of your procedures gave me the energy to be strong there for you.
MARR: Do you still worry about me?
MARR: Every day, every minute. But I'm not worried about this cancer coming back anymore, because you've kicked its butt.
MARR: You've beat it.
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MONTAGE: That's Jerris Marr and his daughter Faith in San Francisco. Faith's cancer is in remission. Their conversation will be archived at the Library of Congress. The StoryCorps podcast is at npr.org.