He was tall, but only 9 years old, the same age as my Joshua. His parents were foreign with thick accents. They mentioned his diagnoses…Ewings Sarcoma found in his thumb, of all places. Yes, the same cancer as my Joshua. But Josh’s had been found in his neck bone. Rare, his parents said. Yes, rare indeed I agreed with a nod of my head.
He was hooked up to the usual IV pole with bags of chemo and fluids. He munched away on his burrito. His head was bald. I told them of my son. How he was almost 5 years out of treatment. Their eyes lit up. 5 years! Then they mentioned their son had metastasis to his lungs as well. The cancer had already spread when they found it. My heart sunk. I didn’t even ask him his name.
I didn’t want to know.
Mets means a poorer prognosis, I know.
Maybe I won’t see them again next month. Maybe I will.
I’ve been serving lunch once a month to families in the hospital with children who have been diagnosed with cancer for over a year now. Always I’ve gotten to know their names, their diagnosis, and their stories. But something changed with Lesly Foster’s death. Something changed with Gage’s struggle.
It’s as if I’m putting a wall up, barricading myself in to protect my heart. I don’t want to know them well anymore. I want to serve, but I want to serve in a way that protects my emotions. How do I do that? Is it wrong of me? Selfish perhaps?
I thought about our conversation later. I was startled I hadn’t told them about E-SARC and all the other resources I know of for our EWS kids. Why?
I guess I need a reprieve. A break from the heartache. I hope it’s short-lived. I hope strength or hope or whatever it is I need returns.
I didn’t even ask him his name and I’d NEVER done that before…