A couple of weeks ago I had a dilemna. A parent had written to me some months ago to register their child's details but I hadn't heard anything from then since, so I dropped them a quick e-mail to wish them well and let them know we were still here when they were ready. After I'd sent the mail, my stomach turned and I panicked, wondering if the child had maybe lost their battle and here I was offering them all some fun! I felt really insensitive. Fortunately, shortly afterwards I did hear from them and all is well, but it got me to thinking that there are some children, for whom we make awards, that wont make it. It's a really depressing thought isn't, and I'm sorry to express it but it's the sad reality.
Yesterday I was at the RVI with Jessica whilst she had her round of chemotherapy, and I heard a nurse mention the name of a child that we have supported (their details are not on this site as not all parents want to share their stories, and that's perfectly understandable). I went over to the child's mum and introduced myself and explained that I was the person she had chatted with at Jessica's Smile. She was lovely and told me all about how much her child was enjoying their gift, and I felt really proud that we are making a small difference. And then I asked her how treatment was going, and she explained that her child has now relapsed twice and she's been told that the Drs don't think that any more can be done. I was absolutely floored and I've been thinking about them all evening. I can't begin to imagine how she must be feeling. She continues to take her child to the RVI and lets the Drs do their thing, in the knowledge that it probably wont make any difference in the long run. Can you imagine that?
What also strikes me is that some of these parents are so young themselves and they are thrust into this very adult world of hospitals, consultants and medicines you can't remember the names of. I'm 42 and practically one of the dinosaurs as Jessica is 13, but some of these parents are in their early twenties and just really starting their adult lives, and then they are suddenly caught up in this nightmare that will affect them for the rest of their days. It's so incredibly cruel.
I'm sorry that this is not a happy blog, but unfortunately that's the reality of childhood cancer, and that's why I feel even more determined to continue doing what we're doing. Even in the worst case scenario, if we can bring some joy, no matter how short lived, then it is all worthwhile.