Thursday, May 09, 2013

"I wish my son had cancer"

Here is an advert that appeared on page 28 of The Independent today:
What do you see?
I see a father and his son;
I see a father whose love shows no bounds,
who hopes for a cure for his son.

Are you
shocked by the advert,
by the title
I wish my son had cancer?
Or perhaps you're bewildered?
I can hear you gasp,
I can feel some of you recoil,
I sense your anger
and possibly, for some, your loss.
For the majority of you,
I sense that
a question lies upon your lips -
how can a father wish this for his son?
I'm not shocked or bewildered;
No, not at all...
I know how this father feels,
I know exactly how he feels
and what he is thinking:
I have thought precisely this -
"I wish that she had cancer".
I lost all hope;
there was absolutely no hope at all.
As a doctor I know too well how important
therapies and medications are,
relieving symptoms,
prolonging life,
giving hope to many who fear the future -
a deteriorating quality of life,
saying goodbye to their loved ones,
facing an untimely death .
Treatment and cure
are possibilities in childhood cancer;
there is therefore
Hope to cling on to,
to grasp in the middle of the night
when fear strangles your heart;
hope to guide you through
the day-to-day reality
of a life-limiting or life-threatening illness,
hope that your child will survive into adulthood...
Duchenne and SMA are similar
in that they are neuromuscular diseases,
and life-limiting,
with no treatment or cure
to stop the functional decline of
the muscles that allow our children
the freedom of movement,
nor the muscles that aid and assist
life affirming respiration;
children with Duchenne or SMA
may not live to see
With cancer
there is hope;
our children would stand a chance,
seeing their dreams become a reality.
But I can see the other side too,
the 1 in 3 with cancer
and all those affected as a result:
the 29 year old with terminal cancer,
a mother of three children
whose cancer has progressed through years of treatment,
the family grieving
the life wrenched from them
too soon.
I see the other side of the argument,
the "has this man ever lost someone to cancer?",
because I care for those with cancer -
I see their hope, their resilience,
their pain, their loss, their grief
and would not wish
on anyone,
not myself,
nor my child,
nor anyone I've yet to meet.
Harrison's dad isn't wishing the disease on his son,
he is wishing for the funding that supports cancer research,
that promotes awareness,
that fuels the research of new therapies,
that gives hope
for a cure,
for a future.
He wishes for Duchenne to receive the publicity and funding
that can change people's lives,
that can give families hope.
That is what he wishes for
and I stand beside him
wishing for the same for
So, yes,
there was a moment when
"I wish that she had cancer"
crossed my mind
but not anymore;
she is so very full of love and joy,
she teaches us how to live life to the fullest
with SMA and Whizzy Wheels;
I wouldn't change her for the world
but I would ask for hope for others.


Alex Smith said...

Beautifully written and thank you, I could not have put it better, much love Alex (Harrison's Dad)

Shona Playfair said...

Beautiful and heart felt words. I think you are amazing and I have so much respect for you.
I wish you and your family lots of love and hope this is a wonderful summer for all of us
Smiley sunny days :)
Shona xx

Ellen Arnison said...

What a touching and sad post.

Those of us fortunate enough to have healthy kids must squeeze them even harder and do what we can to help those who don't.



Beautiful- I have a son Dan who is 21 and we see things in a different way.
DMD has changed so much over 20 years and I feel there is hope these days but realise that other people are at different stages of the DMD journey!!
If nothing else people are talking about DMD.

Midlife Singlemum said...

I understood completely - he wishes he had the hope you describe. So sad and so poignant.

LittleMamma said...

I completely understand why Alex has thought this. At least with cancer (having lost people close to me from Cancer) there is that hope, that chance of treatment. H's condition is life limiting and life threatening but not in the way that SMA and DMD are - he is unlikely to slowly deteriorate - that must be a terrifying prospect for any parent. I met a mother through our local hospice whose severely disabled daughter, through some cruel twist of fate, went on to develop cancer. She said to me that at least with the cancer she knew what she was up against - they could treat it and it would either work or it wouldn't, (she recovered from that thankfully) but with her other disabilities there was nothing that could be done. Her daughter passed away recently aged 9.