Friday, January 7, 2011


There is a little boy in E's first grade class. He has cancer. That is really all that needs to be said. Here is his caring bridge journal.

We know what Mason is going through and can only imagine what his parent's are thinking right now. But what about his siblings? It is easy to forget those on the sidelines when you are facing a medical crisis. 

When J had her first surgery, we were housed at Doernbecher Children's Hospital. A place filled with pediatric expertise and wonderful care, but not a place you want to spend any time. J was recovering from a surgery to detether her spinal cord. Any surgery near a spinal cord is scary stuff, but we knew when we were admitted onto our hospital ward that J was one of the "healthy" kids. 

Our hospital ward was full of children with neck tumors and brain tumors. And we were worried about a little tethered spinal cord. Big deal! But there was one little girl who was down the hall from us. She was probably around the age of 12-14 and she never left her bed. She had an inoperable brain tumor. But the surgeon was going to operate anyway to "see if there's a chance", he said to one of the nurses.

I sometimes worry about that little girl and wonder if she made it. I also wonder about her mother who never left her side during those days we watched this all play out. But the one I think about the most is her brother. He was maybe a couple years younger than she was. And he was sad! I mean really sad. I never saw him cry, but he walked all over that hospital by himself trying to keep busy. He would visit the playroom, check out movies, play video games and cook burritos in the microwave down the hall. He just kept moving and I don't think his parents checked in with him even once. You can't blame them! They were losing a child. They were busy. 

The day we were discharged from the hospital, we walked past this little boy. I'll never forget him sitting in his sister's unused wheelchair in the hallway. He wasn't eating one of his burritos or playing a video game. It looked like his attempt to keep himself busy had ended. He had given up. He just sat in that wheelchair and stared at the wall. As we walked past him, I wanted to say something to him. I wanted to hug him and take him home with us. He was as much a victim as his sister. But what do you say. 

"Everything is going to be okay" is just plain dishonest.

I think he would have appreciated some attention. Someone to play a game with or to talk to. I hope he found that while he was there, but it may not have come until later when his parents were able to focus on him again. It's tough to be a sibling!


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