I would watch as the nurse wheeled you down the hallway towards the lounge. Most often you were a girl, sometimes you were a boy, but always you were skin and bones, pale with sadness in your eyes, barley taking up space in the wheel chair. You were not allowed to expend any energy with your heart rate down to twenty-six beats; you were tethered to a heart monitor. Never allowed privacy not even when using the toilet or taking a shower in your room, always would a nurse hover over you and it was no different in the lounge where you were supposed to eat your meal. I would watch you stare at the tray of food. Each of you had a pattern, but it was similar... you would straighten the tray, put your napkin in your lap, take your fork and push the food around. Then you would set the fork down, re-fold your napkin and straighten your glass of milk. Finally you would pick up the fork, putting a little food on it and bring it to your mouth, only to stop, setting it down again and re-straightening your tray. It was agonizing to watch. I did not understand. Did you want to disappear? What kind of monster were you battling in your mind?
My son was fighting a monster too. It was growing inside of him unseen until the x-ray exposed its existence. He did not choose this monster. My son like you was wasting away, only he had a feeding tube and was tethered to an IV pole, which pumped in chemo-poison trying to kill the monster. He desired food, but knew he would just throw it up again. When I was told Josh had cancer, they began to explain the treatment of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery .When I learned of the damage that could be done to his virgin body both now and lurking in his future, it was all I could do to stop myself from scooping him up in my arms and running. It all seemed so barbaric. But I had no choice, as the doctor explained the courts would take him away from me if I did not consent to his treatment. I had no choice.
With treatment over, we no longer pace the halls where I used to see you, not understanding your fight. There is no scan to reveal the beast in your mind. Did you want to be invisible? Now the damage is done to my little boy’s body, but the monster is dead. The radiation fried his airway, melted his throat and destroyed his thyroid, but the monster is dead.
I had no choice. But you do. I do not understand, but I beg of you, choose your life. You have the power. Fight the monster. Choose your life.