Working for a hospital, even in a non-clinical setting, I’ve seen a lot of things. And when I became a mom three years ago, I began to notice one such thing in particular – much more often, and with much greater intensity.
I read stories in our employee newsletter of our exceptional nurses going above and beyond for a child struggling in the PICU. When I am on my way to a meeting, I see a parent pushing his or her child in a wheelchair through the halls of the hospital for a change of scenery–probably hoping for distraction from the daily pokes and prods and pains of inpatient life.
And then, I came across patient blogs.
Some of these brave families share their experiences – good, bad, terrifying and beyond – in daily journaling and family photos. They celebrate the remissions and openly grieve the setbacks. They are personal, raw, engaging and impossible to ignore.
It’s easy to fall in love with these children – their will to survive, their warm smiles in spite of needles and tests, their love for life that is evident in even the sickest of eyes. Even their families take up residence in a special place in my heart. I imagine the mom is just trying to juggle hospital life and home, the dad searching for answers to the latest medical surprise.
A happy ending for each child and their family is what I wish for on a daily basis.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in the waiting room at a doctor’s office for my own minor medical inconvenience, agitated at the wait I turned to the distraction of scrolling through my Facebook news feed. I read that a little girl I have followed for years lost her fight to cancer. And I was stunned – numb.
How could she be gone? Just like that? How does a family go on?
I think the family blog said it best – “Words fail.”
When I tucked my son in bed that night, I let myself read just one more book, or three, or five. I let him stall my exit with close to a million “What’s that?!” inquiries. I looked at my healthy boy and thought of the family that would, without question, give anything for that one more book, that one more question – the family that lost those things when they said goodbye to their little girl.
Cancer is mean. Relentless. It is a word that strikes fear into even the most seasoned adult. Kids deserve days of wonder and exploration, not doctors upon doctors – candy (in moderation, of course), not chemo – a CHILDHOOD, not cancer.
My hair will grow back, ya’ll. A child who loses the battle with cancer will not.
If the money raised by the St. Baldricks foundation can give one more child a chance at a cancer-free childhood – or spare one more family the pain of losing their pride and joy – I’d say a little less hair and a little more research seems a most wonderful trade.
To learn more about St. Baldricks, visit www.stbaldricks.org. A donation to the Patient Assistance Fund at The Nebraska Medical Center can also support the families dealing with extended hospitalizations.
Every donation is one that can help build hope.