My past month has been primarily spent on the pediatric oncology service. Many days, I come home sad. Many days, I find myself at a loss of words as to what is appropriate to say to these families.
Do you smile at the mother of a child with a newly diagnosed cancer when you pass her in the hall? Is a “hello, how are you doing” ok or will it make her upset?
Is saying “I’m sorry” admitting defeat or appropriate for the cirumstances?
How do you look at child who is a shell of himself or herself after we’ve pumped them full of chemo, to make them eventually better, only to have them suffer terribly in the interim? Who can’t get out of bed or even have enough energy to play on an iPad?
What do you tell the mother who asks, “What happened to all of my prayers? Where are all of my unanswered prayers?” I’ve heard that having a child is like having your heart live outside of your body. And watching someone’s heart break in front of the parents’ eyes has really impacted me this month.
And, how can you listen to the screams of a child having his or her mediport accessed without wanting to yell, “No! Stop! You’re hurting him!” even though you know it must be done.
My sadness was compounded on Monday with the Boston Marathon bombings.
A new set of unanswered “whys” ensued.
What was the motive?
Who would do this?
Are my friends ok?
As many people have written or mentioned, it really could have been any of us. My first marathon I finished at 4:09:59, fairly close to finish time at which the bombs went off. My sister and her friends were at the finish, cheering me on. Most of us have these experiences – as runner or spectator – making it easy to imagine it happening to us or a loved one.
I felt it would be remiss of me not to mention the Boston Marathon bombings, but also don’t feel I can state as eloquently my feelings on what has transpired better than some of my friends (real or internet). Here are some links to really wonderful posts:
Of course, I don’t have the answers to the unanswered “why” questions. But, what the world lacks for in answers, we make up for with hope, I guess.
I hope that less toxic, yet more effective treatments for children’s cancers will be developed so children suffer less through their treatments.
I hope my patients with the grim diagnoses are the exceptions to the rule. If a certain disease has a 20% survival rate, why can’t my patient be in that 20%?
I hope we can improve those survival rates.
I hope I can bring a bright spot to a family’s day while they are in the hospital, even if I am just with them for a few minutes.
I hope that the perpetrator of these horrible, senseless acts is found.
I hope that there are no more deaths from this attack.
I hope those who lost their limbs can get prostheses. And then I hope they will finish the Boston Marathon some day.
I hope the families affected are finding solace in this difficult time.
I hope for better gun control laws.
I hope for more good deeds to make headline news than acts of violence.
With much love.
And, until next time….