The Memphis Belle

She is 9 years old. Her hair is the color of wildflower honey. She has a cherub face. Her name is Luxe, which is Latin for light. Her mother chose this name as soon as she knew she was pregnant.

Luxe has aplastic anemia.

Aplastic anemia can be serious. It means your bone marrow doesn’t make enough red blood cells. One of the symptoms is easy bruising. Another symptom is that infections last way too long.

If you have aplastic anemia, there are medicines that might help you. But your main treatment option is a bone marrow transplant. Which is a frightening procedure.

Especially if you are a 9-year-old like Luxe.

A lot of people don’t know exactly what a bone marrow transplant involves. People, for example, like me.

So I called a Methodist University Hospital doctor in Memphis to explain the procedure. The doctor was glad to talk to me on his lunch break.

“Bone marrow is life,” he said. “Marrow comes in two colors. Red and yellow. It fills the cavities of your bones, and it has a big job. Red marrow makes your blood. So it’s pretty important stuff.”

Bone marrow is spongy, he tells me, like jelly. Just imagine spreading jam on toast. That’s the consistency. And chances are, if you need a marrow transplant, you need it yesterday.

“A marrow transplant is a huge undertaking. Especially for kids. There’s a conditioning period of about ten days.

“The immune system has to be totally suppressed so the body doesn’t reject new marrow cells. This usually involves intensive chemo and radiation.”

At minimum, you’re looking at nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, organ damage, and a host of other serious side effects I won’t mention.

Things no child deserves to suffer.

“Some people recover in three months. Some people take twelve months or longer. Everyone’s different. But it’s a big deal, and it’s not easy.

“There’s a lot of fatigue because your body’s regrowing cells, and this requires major calories and energy. People have no idea how hard it is for a patient who’s in cell recovery after a transplant.”

Which brings us back to Luxe.

She just underwent her second bone marrow transplant.

That is correct. Her second. This is her second time going through hell. The second time her parents have had to watch their daughter lie in bed, connected to tubes, surrounded by more blinking lights than there are aboard the Starship Enterprise.

The conditioning process was havoc on Luxe’s tiny body. She had a blood infection. Complications. She was pumped full of antibiotics. Her circulatory system became a veritable chemistry cocktail.

But she is a tough kid. Bone tough.

Right now, Luxe is in an outpatient residence at Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Recovering.

It’s not fair, of course. None of this is fair. Luxe’s friends are all in classrooms, running free at recess, laughing during school lunches, horsing around in P.E. class. Enjoying the all-American childhood.

Whereas Luxe is living at the Target House, an apartment reserved for families with children undergoing lengthy treatments.

As you read these words, I can’t help but wonder what Luxe might be doing.

Maybe she is staring out her apartment window, thinking. Maybe she is watching the Memphis cars and people go by.

Or maybe she is looking at the Tennessee sky, wondering why bad things happen to good kids.

Maybe she is crying because all she wants to be is normal. Maybe she feels exhausted. Maybe she is lonely.

I don’t know Luxe. But I wish I did. And I wish I could take this horrible experience from her. I wish I could wipe it from her memory. I wish I could wave a magic wand and remove her suffering. But I can’t.

What I can do is this.

I can send Luxe a postcard. I can tell her I am thinking of her. I can tell her that I am praying. And I can send this card to: Luxe Trivett, c/o Target House, 1811 Poplar Avenue, Apartment 511, Memphis, TN 38104.

And so can you. And who knows? Maybe if you and I send cards, others will, too. Maybe Luxe will receive an entire shipload of postcards.

Maybe she will get her wish and receive notes from every U.S. state. From each world country. From Alaska to Maine. From Norway to Zimbabwe. Notes from kids and adults alike.

From people who have all written letters from the heart. From people who just wanted to tell a 9-year-old girl that she is beautiful. That she is loved. That she is brave.

And above all, that her mother chose the right name.

66 comments

  1. Debbie - September 13, 2022 7:05 am

    Sean, thank you so much for the information and address of Luxe. I will send a card today.

    Reply
  2. 1018le - September 13, 2022 8:44 am

    I will DEFINITELY be sending a card and I am grateful for the opportunity to encourage this beautiful child and her parents by promising to pray for her, the parents and the doctor and nurses caring for Luxe! I would like to send her a shirt with the quote from Christopher Robin that says “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” I know there are limitations on what she could receive, since she is immune-compromised, but a photo of the shirt could be shown to her. I wonder if this photo was sent to you that you could get it to the phones, so she could see it. So grateful, Sean, for your love of those who suffer! I believe that suffering is never wasted, though we surely don’t like it! God Bless You as you continue to share you beautiful words!

    Reply
  3. Susan Poole - September 13, 2022 10:05 am

    In Wednesday’s out-going mail will be a greeting card from me, addressed to precious Luxe. I hope she receives such a huge boatload of cards & letters from around the world that her room overflows with sweet wishes, prayers and Love💖🥰🌟🙏⭐🌈❣

    Reply
  4. Susan - September 13, 2022 11:05 am

    Praying for Luxe, and sending her a card today🙏♥️ I love the Christopher Robin quote, 1018le!

    Reply
  5. Mike Fletcher - September 13, 2022 11:24 am

    Done. Thanks, Sean.

    Reply
  6. Dolores - September 13, 2022 11:24 am

    Sean, do you know if we can send books? We both know books have the ability to transport us to happier places and to experience wondrous adventures the worldwide. And to meet new courageous friends, many of whom are overcomers.

    Reply
  7. carolanne78 - September 13, 2022 11:31 am

    Consider it done!

    Reply
  8. Kathy Croft - September 13, 2022 11:33 am

    Sweet Luxe. So sad to read she has to go through this horrific pain. Heartbreaking! Thank you for writing about her & sending the address. Card is in the mail today. St Jude’s is my favorite charity because so many are healed and live a normal life & others are given a chance that would have never had medical care. So many prayers for Luxe for God’s healing hand to be upon her.

    Reply
  9. Debbie Robbins - September 13, 2022 11:44 am

    Sean, thanks for making me laugh and cry over the years. Luxe’s story hit me right between the eyes today as I am setting in Aurora CO +5 days into a stem cell transplant. I am 60 not 9. I will send little Luxe a beautiful card and ask family and friends to do the same. I hope you get to meet her one day and squeeze and extra hug in for me!

    Reply
    • Anne Arthur - September 13, 2022 1:53 pm

      Praying for strength, courage, and a full recovery for you, Debbie.

      Reply
  10. fran fluker - September 13, 2022 11:46 am

    thanks for the thoughty suggestion to send a postcard.

    Reply
  11. Patricia Collins - September 13, 2022 11:49 am

    Thank you Sean
    I will be sending Luxe a card, a beautiful card and let her know there lots of us that care and that are sending prayers for her light to shine brighter than ever !

    Reply
  12. Joy Jacobs - September 13, 2022 11:50 am

    ❤️

    Reply
  13. MR - September 13, 2022 12:04 pm

    Done.

    Reply
  14. sflouden - September 13, 2022 12:10 pm

    Thanks Sean I am sending cards and also repost on FB to hopefully get her some more…brave little girl needs lots of encouragement…and prayer.

    Reply
  15. Carol from GA - September 13, 2022 12:17 pm

    Just addressed a card to precious Luxe…. I am originally from Memphis and St. Jude Hospital holds a special place in my heart for all that they have done over the years. I’m sure Luxe is going to be overwhelmed with love and letters thanks to your kind heart Sean. Thank you again for being “you”.

    Reply
  16. Sean of the South: The Memphis Belle | The Trussville Tribune - September 13, 2022 12:37 pm

    […] By Sean Dietrich, Sean of the South […]

    Reply
  17. Jane Sparacio - September 13, 2022 12:42 pm

    DONE!

    Reply
  18. Judy - September 13, 2022 12:42 pm

    I will remember her in my prayers and please keep us posted.

    Reply
  19. Mary Anne Murphy Hornbuckle - September 13, 2022 12:42 pm

    Done! Thank you for the opportunity to make a small difference.

    Reply
  20. Stacey Brandenberger - September 13, 2022 1:03 pm

    Thank you for sharing this story and the address for this special girl. I will send a card. I believe in prayer and will be praying for her too.

    Reply
  21. Jim Kelly - September 13, 2022 1:04 pm

    Very moving story. God Bless little Luxe and her family. I hope that everyone that sends a card will put a dollar bill in the envelope.

    Reply
    • Cindy - September 13, 2022 1:41 pm

      Jim, great idea about the dollar(s) bill.
      Praying for Luxe.

      Reply
  22. Louise A Stewart - September 13, 2022 1:09 pm

    I’m praying for Luxe and mailing a funny postcard! Sean, as a long time fan of yours and a proud member of Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA) I’m making a donation in your honor as we celebrate our 50-year partnership with St. Jude Children’s Hospital. One of our Gamma Iota members, the ESA Chapter #4063, in Laurel, MS, has worked at every St Jude Dream Home Giveaway in the Jackson, MS area. Sean, may I encourage you to read Danny Thomas’ story about the beginning of St. Jude Hospital.
    ESA for St. Jude Office, 363 West Drake Road, Fort Collins, CO 80526

    Reply
  23. Jim Kelly - September 13, 2022 1:12 pm

    I remember Danny Thomas announcing St. Jude on TV. At the time it was only a concept. St. Jude is remarkable. My family has experienced care there. It is simply the best.

    Reply
  24. JanJan - September 13, 2022 1:20 pm

    Thank you, Sean. I just mailed Luxe a card, and I will be praying for her.

    Reply
  25. Peggy M. Windham - September 13, 2022 1:26 pm

    Thanks for sharing her information. I’m definitely praying and sending her a card. 🙏💜

    Reply
  26. Lori Jahn - September 13, 2022 1:37 pm

    I had a BMT. I will definitely reach out. Thank you!

    Reply
  27. abluedot - September 13, 2022 1:42 pm

    I am a “real mail” person, and it will be a pleasure to send Luxe a card. She is braver and stronger than most of us will ever be.

    Reply
  28. Anne Arthur - September 13, 2022 1:48 pm

    Praying for Luxe and all other children who are suffering so devastating diseases. 💔

    Reply
  29. Ann Bdiford - September 13, 2022 1:50 pm

    Thank you for this post. I am sending Luxe a card today. Praying that God will heal Luxe’s body if it be His will.

    Reply
  30. Patrick - September 13, 2022 2:05 pm

    I’m in Sean. I just heard a
    bell. Surely it was for you and your wings!!

    Reply
  31. Mary - September 13, 2022 2:15 pm

    Will do.
    Spreading the word.

    Reply
  32. John Hall - September 13, 2022 2:31 pm

    Prayers for Luxe.

    Reply
  33. Carol Pilmer - September 13, 2022 3:18 pm

    Once again, thank you….Assignment received….

    Reply
  34. Lynn B - September 13, 2022 3:34 pm

    My brother-in-law went through aplastic anemia as a teenager and made it through the tough treatment and recovery beautifully. He’s 66 now, a husband and father of two, and we just pulled him waterskiing on Lake Martin last month! Can’t wait to tell Luxe! Thank you!

    Reply
  35. Karen Hoffmann - September 13, 2022 3:45 pm

    Thank you for your daily uplifting stories and words’. They make my day, everyday!!! I will be sending a card to Luxe. This hit close to home as my dear friend Debbie is also going through a stem cell transplant. Prayers for all dealing with medical issues and heartaches 🙏🙏l🙏

    Reply
  36. Kandi Simpson - September 13, 2022 3:46 pm

    Sending Luxe a card and thanks for always doing good things for others❤️

    Reply
  37. Beryl - September 13, 2022 4:01 pm

    And so it is…

    Reply
  38. pattymack43 - September 13, 2022 4:08 pm

    Consider it done! I have a 20 year old Grandgirl who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at 2 1/2 years. Not the same, but close. It took years to recover; however, by God’s grace she did recover and is leading the life of her dreams. Prayers and blessings are being lifted up for Luxe!!! Thanks for giving us the opportunity to pray for Luxe, Sean. Blessings!

    Reply
  39. Mary Jean Mullins - September 13, 2022 4:12 pm

    I just put my card in the mail. I hope all the mail she is going to receive brightens up her day just as your stories brighten up ours or inspires us to understand a lot of things. If your readers are so inclined to do something for Luxe they might consider making a donation in her name to Be the Match. It is an non profit organization that is dedicated to helping every patient get the life saving marrow transplant they need. If you are between 18 &35 you might want to learn about how to donate your marrow. Go to bethematch.org.They will appreciate it and maybe Luxe will too.

    Reply
  40. Naomi Hofacket - September 13, 2022 4:49 pm

    Thank you! San Francisco card is on its way to Luxe!

    Reply
  41. Steve Strubel - September 13, 2022 4:52 pm

    Than you for the writing. Our daughter had aplastic anemia in 1968 when 4 years old. Only two bone marrow transplants had be used for aplastic then. Your description of the sufferings is correct. Our daughter developed an infection and was unable to overcome it.
    Perhaps a side note. Aplastic limits all cell production including white cells, stem cells, and platelets.
    I cannot imagine what she thinks, but I can realize how great of a light she is for love and life. May the Lord keep this angel on earth for a long time.

    Reply
  42. Michael Edwards - September 13, 2022 5:37 pm

    Done

    Reply
  43. Mary - September 13, 2022 6:17 pm

    Beautiful! What a blessing to her and others that would benefit from happy thoughts and prayers.

    Reply
  44. Rhonda Dickinson - September 13, 2022 6:29 pm

    done

    Reply
  45. LBJ - September 13, 2022 6:31 pm

    Postcard is in the mail from Cape Cod with more to follow. Thanks, Sean, for letting us help her, even if it’s only one postcard (& prayer) at a time!

    Reply
  46. Karen Holderman - September 13, 2022 6:34 pm

    I will be praying for Luxe and sending her a card.

    Reply
  47. Diana Green - September 13, 2022 6:35 pm

    Card in the mail! Thanks so much for giving us the opportunity. Praying and sending Luxe love!

    Reply
  48. thomas penn montgomery - September 13, 2022 6:45 pm

    Thank you !!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  49. Mike+Bone - September 13, 2022 6:47 pm

    DONE!

    Reply
  50. Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - September 13, 2022 6:52 pm

    Thank you, Sean for bringing this special child to our attention. Praying now and getting a postcard to send. Saint Jude has so many children like her. We can also send them a donation.

    Reply
  51. SassyRed - September 13, 2022 7:38 pm

    Mailed her a card from the Pacific Northwest ~ THANKS for sharing her story with us!

    Reply
  52. Clay Hare - September 13, 2022 9:43 pm

    Done! The state of Alabama is covered for Luxe Trivett!

    Reply
  53. Linda Moon - September 13, 2022 10:55 pm

    I stopped reading and started praying. I love Latin and and Luxe, too. Thank you, Miss Zander for bringing the love of her name to me when I was your student. I’ll be sending Luxe a card made by Angels who’ve survived cancer, one of whom is me. And I’m praying that Luxe will survive and remember good teachers and friends and a long list maybe of pets and other stuff from her childhood when she too is an a old lady.

    Reply
  54. Helen De Prima - September 13, 2022 11:00 pm

    We send a big check to St. Jude’s every Christmas and designate the hospital for our Amazon Smiles donations. We once met a mother and her 8 year old daughter on their way from Chicago to Memphis on Amtrak for continuing treatment, all paid for by St. Judes’s. It’s the real deal!

    Reply
  55. Pat Rawls Barton - September 13, 2022 11:11 pm

    Thanks for telling Luxe’s story and sharing her address.

    Reply
  56. Michael - September 14, 2022 1:48 am

    https://youtu.be/mM1nMD_Mjos
    Sean, here’s a simple but beautiful short song I ran across today. Maybe it will be a blessing to others.

    Reply
  57. a - September 14, 2022 4:18 am

    Faith in humanity. Restored. ✨

    Reply
  58. NancyB. - September 14, 2022 5:00 am

    Thank you for sharing this with your readers. Postcard to Luxe from Missouri to follow in tomorrow’s mail!

    Reply
  59. Steve Winfield (lifer) - September 14, 2022 8:22 am

    I just wrote her a nice 2 page letter. Didn’t mention the illness at all. Told her about my dogs & family. Just hoping to brighten her day. I sent her one of those fairly new $1 coins. They’re pretty rare. I bet she smiles. I asked her to write me back & I’d do the same. Feels really good thinking about her opening my letter & finding the coin. I know she’ll smile if only for a minute. If a hundred other people can make her smile for a minute then she’ll be smiling all day & that’d be so great, wouldn’t it?
    Thanks Sean for inspiring us to write her. I bet she gets a hundred smiles on you.

    Reply
  60. Kate ORourke - September 14, 2022 12:28 pm

    Thank you for today’s column. I will definitely write to her. I love your compassion and kindness.

    Reply
  61. Jean McCrady - September 14, 2022 7:27 pm

    Sean, there’s gotta be a special place reserved for you in Heaven. Without you, we’d have never known about Luxe and hundreds of other people you write about. My first card is ready for the mail box, and there will be many more. I told her I met her on my computer screen today, and how. Please let us know when Luxe’s address changes so our cards will continue to reach her. Thanks to all of you who gave testimony about St. Jude as a “charity of choice.” My support will continue, and probably increase.

    Reply
  62. Toni Braddy - September 16, 2022 4:08 am

    Post card sent! Thanks for the information and for the introduction to Luxe!

    Reply
  63. Susie Flick - September 17, 2022 2:53 am

    I sent Luxe a note and hope she enjoys all the attention you are directing her way. She is a very strong, brave girl and I have her in my prayers.

    Reply

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