Each week, when we visit the kid’s cancer unit, I am always reminded of one very absolute reality. Kids want to be kids! No matter how sick or how isolated or how confined or how restrained they are. There is an innate desire in them for fun, for laughter, for playing…for the simplicity of childhood. They drag their IV poles with bags of chemo and pain pumps down the hallways at rapid speeds. At times, you will even see them actually trying to ride on their pole…like a scooter or a big wheel. My daughter, Brooke, always did. We even had a song for her IV pole. We would sing, “You get the line and I’ll get the pole and we’ll go fishing at the craw-dead hole, baby.” Brooke would unplug her pole and hop on the bottom rolling brackets as we pushed her up and down the halls. She would even do fancy stunts like lifting one leg or letting go completely while proudly retorting, “Look Mom – no hands!”
Cancer kids amaze me, and this past week at the hospital was no exception. A very frail four year old boy completely won our hearts. I knocked on his door and did my typical greeting to the family. “Hi. I’m with B.I.G. Love Cancer Care. We come by all the rooms once a week to bring toys, snacks, drinks and toiletries. Would you like to take a look at the items on our cart?” And as usual, after I mention the toy option, all of the kids brighten up. They sit up a little straighter in their beds and a wide smile begins to brighten their faces. I love this part…the joy that we are able to bring. Next, we roll our two large carts completely loaded with goodies and surprises right next to the child’s bed. Our carts have items such as: snacks, drinks, toothpaste, shampoo, detergent, and toys galore…from match box cars and monster trucks to princess crowns and jewelry. Now…the shopping begins!
As we rolled our cart next to the bed of this precious four year old boy, he tried his best to gain the strength to raise his head and reach for our fun cart. Although, he was unable to move much and too weak to speak, his Dad immediately came to his rescue while my niece, Cassie, and I held up options for him to look at. We held up cars and trucks and race tracks and playdoh and coloring books plus a myriad of snacks and drinks. With each item we held up, he nodded his head with much approval and his eyes glistened with childhood excitement. At times, he would simply point to something on the cart and wait patiently until we discovered it. When the shopping was done, we placed all his new toys right next to him on the bed. While embracing his toys, he looked at us with such gratitude. As we were leaving his room, we heard his very tiny voice call out to us, “Thank you very much.” We quickly turned around, for these were the only words we had heard him speak, and with tears forming in our eyes, we said, “You are very welcome.” In the hallway, Cassie and I took a moment to wipe away our tears and ready ourselves to enter the next room. Again, the reality hit me. We simply brought childhood a little closer to a very sick and frail four year old boy today. If even for a brief moment, if he thought less about his pain and was able to escape his present reality of chemo and needles and radiation and feeding tubes and enter an imaginary place of race cars and monster trucks…then we were successful. We did what B.I.G. Love was established to do – to love, to encourage, to ease the childhood cancer journey!