Thursday, 25 April 2013

Complaint about Childhood Cancer

Because six year old E has leukaemia, I couldn't take a shower this morning.

OMG! Is E one of your kids? Were you so busy with him that you couldn't wash?  Were you in the hospital where there was no shower?

No. E is my husband's first cousin's younger son.  He lives in another country.  We visited this weekend.

Oh - I get it.  While you were there, you contracted some visiting disease that prohibits showering.

Huh? What visiting disease would possibly prohibit showering?

I know, I know. Did you say they were American? You must be saving money to send to the family so you have forsaken hot water. And shampoo.

Yes, they are American. No, they have insurance. (And for your information, you can buy shampoo at the dollar store. Or so I hear.)

So the only possible explanation then is that you are refusing to shower to draw attention to the plight of childhood leukaemia. Hunger strikes are so 2012.

Nope, but good guess.  I'll tell you the truth.

We went to visit E this weekend. He smashed my knees several times with a baseball bat, played kickball in the yard and refused to try sushi.  Typical six year old boy.

He also has bald spots, a bag of chemo drugs and is prohibited from entering a shopping mall. Typical cancer patient.

I anticipated that it would be a difficult weekend. I knew we would have some good times, I knew we would share some emotional moments. We have been to hell and back Disney with these people. Our families are very close.

Still, I stupidly didn't anticipate that my three kids, aged 14, 12 and 8 would be so shaken up.

One has not stopped crying.

One has not liked any food I have served, including offensive meals such as salmon and rice, chicken breasts and in a particularly inspired gourmet moment, spaghetti.

The third has stayed home from school with a case of the vapours sick. For two days.

My kids are upset. They need attention. They want their Mommy, which as it turns out, is me.

I therefore have to give them a little extra attention this week.  Including a little extra attention in the morning. Which means that at 7am I was sitting and chatting instead of rinsing and repeating if desired.

E taught me a very valuable lesson.

Diseases like this, even if the prognosis is optimistic, are ravaging in so many different ways.

We worry about the ill child. We worry about the parents. We worry about the long road ahead.

And we watch our children worry.

E, I wish you the speediest of recoveries.  And to your parents, I wish strength and courage.

To my own kids, my heart breaks for you as you watch someone you love suffer.

And for myself, well, I'm setting the alarm a bit earlier tomorrow morning.

I really have to take that shower.

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