Mommy is talking again. I think she is trying to make me laugh, but I don’t think anything is very funny. We are in the car going to clinic and I know what this MEANS.
I wasn’t allowed to have any breakfast. My stomach is making funny sounds and it hurts.
Mommy asks me if I want to play a game while we wait for my turn. I grab Connect Four, one of my favorites. For a little while, I forget that I am hungry and scared.
I sit still on the bed with mommy like I am told, but I want to rip the rubber band off my arm and run away. Miss Karen rubs alcohol on my hand. I hate that smell. The needle feels like a giant knife. Mommy is showing me pictures of the beach, but I don’t care because my hand hurts so bad and I see blood coming out. I really don’t want to cry, but I can’t help it.
I am confused again. Mommy always says the medicine is making me better, but the needle hurts so bad. It doesn’t make sense to me. Why does mommy let them give me needles? It hurts and I am mad. I am mad at mommy.
“I hate you!” I say. Mommy doesn’t say anything. I try again. “You’re an idiot!” Mommy just asks if I want to play a game. This makes me more mad. I want her to be upset because I am upset. And now I don’t even remember why I’m mad but I know for sure that I am REALLY hungry.
I kick mommy in the face. I see blood on her lip. Now there is a new feeling. I’m not sure what it is, but I feel very bad. Mommy just gets a tissue and doesn’t say anything.
Now I am laying on my side. My nurse and doctor are there and another nurse. Mommy is right next to me, telling jokes and rubbing my head. They put some medicine in the tube on my hand. Everything starts to look different and I feel really tired. But I also feel like laughing a lot. I feel coldness, then a big pinch and burning sting in my back.
I tell mommy that I like how she always sits right next to me, at clinic, and puts her face near mine. Then I remember that I was mean to her, and I don’t really understand why. But I know that I trust her and I’m not mad anymore.
“I’m sorry I kicked you mommy. I’m sorry. I love you, mommy.”
“I know, baby. I know. I know you didn’t mean it. It’s okay. I love you and I’m so proud of you.”
Everything feels better. They are pushing on my back but it doesn’t hurt anymore. Mommy is smiling at me. I am so tired. I close my eyes and don’t remember anymore.
This is yesterday’s experience from the perspective of a six-year-old. Justin had a blood draw, chemo infusion, and lumbar puncture to aspirate spinal fluid, while also injecting chemotherapy into his spine for the purpose of attacking hidden cancer cells in the central nervous system.
People ask me how it is that I stay strong. Because I have to. Because I don’t have a choice. Because Justin is terrified and, if I am, too, then who will he lean on?
But, at the end of the day, Justin’s eyes closed and mind surrendered to dreams, I get to be the one who is terrified. And it is Jesus who silently and patiently endures with me. He doesn’t fix everything, but He is there. He is next to me and His face is near mine and I know I am loved.
The needle hurts but the medicine is good (yes, there are crappy side effects but chemotherapy is, ultimately, saving Justin’s life). Childhood Cancer hurts, but I know God is working it for our GOOD (Romans 8:28). Grace be with you, my friends.