This is what a child's battle against cancer looks like
And it's absolutely heartbreaking...
Battling cancer is never an easy task, at any age. Emotionally, it affects everyone involved. Physically, chemotherapy can get the better of even the strongest of adults. But when cancer strikes a child, it becomes even more unbearable. What is it like for a 10-year-old child getting chemo? His mother captures his battle in one heartbreaking photograph.
Child getting chemo: Mom shares a heartbreaking message on Facebook
Ten-year-old Drake is battling leukemia, and that too for the second time. He is also suffering because of the severe side effects of the chemotherapy. His mom, Jessica Medinger thinks that he may not live on to see his 11th birthday.
She shared a heart-wrenching picture of Drake, her child getting chemo, where he is seen in extreme pain.
She says: "This was this morning after carrying Drake to the bathroom. Yes, he is in a pull up because 75% of the time he can't control his bathroom habits."
Child getting chemo: The boy is just skin and bones
Jessica's post describes how cancer affects people, in this case, her own child. She says that Drake has turned to skin and bones because she has to beg him to eat one green bean for supper, or drink a cup of water throughout the day.
Jessica also shares that her son sleeps with her at night because he is afraid of something happening and of being alone. She adds: "And by something I mean dying." She states that the 10-year-old has middle-of- the-night conversations with her about what will happen when he dies, whether he will go to heaven and meet his father there. Or if he will he be able to play and talk with him.
She goes on to say that he's too weak to get out of bed or walk. And someone has to carry him in a wheelchair. Even if someone is chatting with him, he falls asleep because of exhaustion. She also shares that he throws up every medication he's given. He dry heaves because his stomach is empty except for the spoonful of yogurt she gives him with his pills.
Child getting chemo: Mommy, I'm not going to make it
The heartbroken mom continues to say that he had to take 44 chemo pills in a week. And also that he tells her: "Mommy, I'm not going to make it."
He is not comfortable when someone touches him, because it hurts too much. He uses morphine to get through his day. She further mentions that this is him telling me he is scared and thinks he won't see his 11th birthday. She tells her little love that she will continue to fight for him when he can't.
Jessica shares: "This is him, Drake, Stinky Joe, my whole world. From the moment I found out I was pregnant till future forever, he has been my reason for life. My smile, my love, my heartbeat. He is also my tears, my heart ache, my frowns. He is my life."
Child getting chemo: Cancer destroys a person
Jessica also points out that some people may find this picture of her son wearing just a pull-up diaper disturbing. So, before people start to protest, she clarifies. She says that firstly, it doesn't show more than what a swimsuit would. And secondly, life is not always politically correct and pretty. It is real. Life isn't pretty, and cancer destroys a person.
Child getting chemo: how to cope
Here are some useful tips if your child is dealing with cancer or any other chronic illness.
1. Dealing with your own emotions
Most often, parents may feel guilt, sadness or anger. It can be either towards your own kids or even your partner. The best way to overcome such feelings is to directly address your child's medical condition.
One study reveals that when parents focused on taking action, they experienced lower levels of anxiety and depression as compared to the ones focusing on the problem itself. So, remember to keep your focus on finding solutions to the problem instead of the problem itself.
Another study reveals that parents experienced stress when caring for an unwell child. But mothers felt it more than the fathers, perhaps because they are often the primary caregivers.
The study also pointed out that the stress may be building up as parents feel a complete loss of control in making their kids feel better. It might also be due to an uncertainty about the future. In such cases, it is best not to think of what the outcome is going to be.
2. Pay attention to what you can do for your child in the present.
Parents can build a support network that they can rely on. Focus on yourself on both, physical and mental levels. Healthy eating, exercising and engaging in your favorite hobbies can help parents keep stress levels in check.
Remove the feelings of guilt as you take out time for yourself. In the long run, it will be beneficial for you as well as your child.
3. Child getting chemo: Dealing with your child and their problems
For parents, it is crucial that you treat your ailing kid as normally as possible. Have an open conversation with your kids. Here are a few useful tips on how you can help your child not feel alienated.
- Avoid over-sheltering your little one. Don't limit his activities. But at the same time, don't become too permissive either. Children can get confused when you break your own rules. So, keep that in mind and make allowances that are healthy. Most importantly, try to maintain the same family routine that you may have had in the past.
- When sharing information with your ailing child, ensure that it is age-appropriate. Giving too much information as well as hiding facts may not be of help. Explain the situation to your child as far as possible. If they overhear or lack understanding, they may start having their own inaccurate or mistaken ideas about it. And that may not be a good thing for your child's mental health.
- Ailing children may face isolation problems at school. At the same time, children may find it difficult to explain their condition to others. You can encourage them to talk about their medical condition so that they find it easier when sharing it with other kids or teachers. Involve your other children in the process, but without compromising on their one-on-one time with you.
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Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore