Hello kids, today you'll learn about what you're feeling in a slightly different way. I am a kid just like you and I succeeded in overcoming and fighting fear. Come with me on the journey to my past, and like magicians we'll get through everything together.
One day I woke up and saw my parents who were standing in silence. I asked what had happened but I was answered by silence. My mother was crying. What can a kid in this kind of a situation feel? I started getting curious, suspicious, felt butterflies in my stomach. Does that ever happen to you? Now I'll tell you a secret. When I would feel something strange in the air, I would imagine that the mirror in my room was talking to me and that the person over there in the mirror was the one with all the problems. I also had a pad of paper where I wrote down all my feelings.
That day I went to school, everything was as usual. Outside the neighbors asked how I was and how my parents and brothers were. All the children were on their way to school accompanied by their parents. The grocery store was full of parents, shouting. A morning just like every other morning. Even the sun played hide n' seek with the clouds, but everything was as usual, everyone was at ease except for the strangeness that pervaded the air with my parents. I had a strange feeling all day, Mom and Dad had acted strange before, but then it was a surprise party they were planning for me, and today it was something else, it wasn't a surprise party.
At dinner I tried to talk about what had happened to me at school and about how I had done well on the test, suddenly everyone was silent and looked at me, it was scary - they were looking at me with exaggerated understanding. Dad clasped his hands and said good for you, Mom smiled and said with a trembling voice, that's my boy, you'll be somebody when you grow up. And my two older brothers didn't say anything; I felt that something was wrong.
After dinner, Mom came up to me and said in the weirdest and quietest voice I've ever heard: tomorrow you're coming with us to the doctor. Why? I immediately asked, it's nothing, Mom and Dad answered at once. Why? But I feel fine. Dad said the doctor wants to check your vision and there's no other time to do it.
That night I couldn't sleep and it seems that the tension building up over the day was about to explode. What were my parents hiding from me? Why are they taking me to the doctor? What did I do? Maybe I did something bad, so the doctor will give me a shot? I tossed and turned until I fell asleep. Mom woke me up at 7 in the morning, come take a shower, we're going to see the doctor. I took a shower and ate, my Mom combed my hair. My two older brothers were still sleeping. They took care of themselves. And all the while everything was quiet. When we went towards the door, I remembered that I didn't take my school bag. Wait a minute! I'll take my bag. My Mom just waved her hand, and told me that I wouldn't be needing it today.
I was quiet, I didn't know what to say. We got into the cab and when we began to drive, I asked where we were going. You told me we're going to the doctor, and the doctor isn't far from here. Dad told me that we have to go somewhere where they'll explain the results of the blood tests that I took. I really got scared, where were my parents going? We rode in silence the whole time. Mom and Dad talked intermittently about all kinds of things, but nobody explained what was really going on.
We got there about an hour later; we reached what looked like a big hospital; there were a bunch of people, walking back and forth, everyone was minding his own affairs. I asked Mom if something happened to her or to Dad, she smiled and said no. We entered the building and went inside the elevator, and there was a small room on the ward where an older man was sitting. Please have a seat he said. A smell of medicine and chlorine pervaded the room, everything was too white. There was a bed there. He had a lot of notes on his desk, letters scattered all over, pictures and thank you letters from other children. I didn't know where they had brought me, Dad and Mom sat behind me and I sat at the head of the table, next to the doctor.
The doctor looked at some sort of file and then he said, hello. What's your name son, how old are you, where do you go to school, I answered all these questions, but I had a strange feeling that that wasn't what we came here for. The doctor looked at my papers, asked Mom and Dad a few other details and then he began to speak. Mr. and Mrs. your son is suffering from a disease that can be cured, but it takes time, and a lot of patience. I will give you a referral for a detection test and a few other tests. To me he said, son you've developed a disease, we have to find out what it is, but it'll be okay, you do exactly what Mom and Dad tell you, and don't exert yourself too much.
You have no idea how strange I felt, I had the feeling that everyone knows something but that they were hiding it from me and that they knew what I was suffering from, the fact that the hospital doctor had to tell me I had a disease sounded scary. I tried to find signs, like a detective, to discover something, but upon my investigation I began to suddenly feel that I have no sense of taste not appetite, and I didn't know if it was because of the stress or because of something else, and once I had a dizzy spell, but it went away; all this added to the strange feeling that I had. A few weeks later, my parents received a letter from the hospital, Mom just read the letter and immediately became sad.
Mom, what happened? I asked her, she didn't answer. Mom, does it have anything to do with me? What did the doctor tell us? Mom gave me a dry answer, we'll wait for Dad to come home from work, then we'll talk. Dad came home from work, Mom as usual set the table for dinner. We sat around the table, and before that she talked to him about something, we sat there and I felt that I couldn't taste the food and that I had no appetite. Dad asked me, do you remember when we went to the doctor? Yes, I said. Well, the results of other tests that you took came back, and you have what they suspected. Mom began to cry, but she didn't have the courage to look me in the eyes. What do I have? I asked. Dad said in a quiet voice, you will be in the hospital for awhile, and there they're explain everything and when you get better you'll come back home. I felt very confused, what was so terrible about what I had that I had to be in the hospital?
It sounded pretty scary to me, and I was a bit angry with my parents who weren't really explaining what I had. That night, by my nightlight, I looked at myself in the mirror, and I said, I don't know what I have, but maybe you can tell me what the doctor will do to me? Will it hurt? And I fell asleep with the mirror in my hands, and that's where I left that kid, with his thoughts to himself.
A few days later, we went to the hospital; my general condition didn't improve, I began to get nauseous, I couldn't eat, and my leg hurt too. We entered the hospital, this time we went up to the second floor where there was a scary ward, the Pediatric Oncology Dept. My parents looked tense, Dad held a bag, and Mom held the papers. A nurse came up to us, smiled and said in a quiet voice, hello, my name is Lital, I'll show you everything and explain everything, and everything will be fine. Suddenly I felt more relaxed, that finally somebody was really talking to me and not trying to hide things. We went into a little office, with a lot of little plants, drawings of kids and photos. Lital sat down and asked my parents to wait outside. My parents went outside and it was just me and her alone. As I said she began by saying, my name is Lital and I will explain what's happening. Your body is now in a state of war. What does that mean? I asked. We did a blood test, she explained and we discovered that the good soldier in your body needs help to fight the bacteria in your body, and that's why you're here. I asked what the mysterious disease I have is called. Lital looked at me for a fleeting moment and told me, we found signs cancer in your of blood, which is only at the initial stage. We can cure you, but it will take some time, with a lot of patience and cooperation on your part.
I didn't understand a lot of what I heard, but at least I knew what I had. I asked what some time meant. Lital answered, I want you to draw me a picture of your house and everyday until you get better add more and more details and colors. You'll have a room here with another two children, who are suffering from the same disease as you, more or less, and who are recovering. You can talk to them about how you feel and of course with me. What does cooperation mean? What do I have to do? Do I have to activate something? She smiled and said, you have to cooperate in that you do whatever the doctor tells you and you'll have to forgo school a bit. Here you'll have a teacher who will teach you all the missing material. There is a game club here, you won't be alone here. Your family and whoever you want to visit you can come visit, according to visiting hours. There are treatment hours, play time, meal time and rest hours. That's the secret to success. And when will I go back home? She looked at me and told me when your body gets stronger and when you'll be cured of the disease you can go home, everyone is waiting for you at home, nobody is running away.
I felt a bit sad to be leaving my friends and family and to be staying at the hospital. It was already afternoon, Lital led us to the dining hall, where I received a schnitzel, mashed potatoes, beans, a bit of salad and a compote. I had no appetite, I felt nauseous. Then they put a bracelet on my hand and Lital explained that this is how the doctors would know what my name is. Lital took me to Room 6 where there were two occupied beds and the third bed next to the window was available. This is your bed, you also have a closet where your mother will put your things. There were also all kinds of tubes there, I asked Lital what they were, she answered: in case you won't feel well at night, so we can take care of you. I asked, will I be here alone at night? Lital explained with a smile and once again I felt the warmth, the love. Exhausted and bewildered I didn't know exactly what had happened to me. Mom began to arrange the towels, my favorite pyjamas. Mom are you going now? Yes, I am definitely going she said in a quiet voice, but I will be back tomorrow, I promise. Dad will be sleeping with you today. Good night sweetheart, she said. I went to sleep and thoughts scurried through my head and that's when I fell asleep. In the morning there was the doctor's visit and the doctor told me we're going to start giving you treatment. Mom and Dad, who sat by my bedside, started to ask what kind of treatment and the doctor said, you have cells which we want to prevent from multiplying and invading your body in droves. We will stop this process with radiation. What is radiation? Radiation destroys the cells by burning them so that they do not multiply.
After several radiation sessions, I felt even stranger. My leg hurt me more, I was weak, I had nausea, I also vomited. Mom and Dad were always by my side. Lital always came to ask how I was, and the friends I had become acquainted with, I saw that they also suffered. I took my mirror and I saw a more mature person on the other side, someone who was suffering, until I asked the mirror, why am I still suffering and when will I get better? If they don't take care of me will I die? These were the thoughts going through my mind.
My friends on the ward explained that everyone in the dept. suffers from the same problem in the body and that we were all fighting. The illness is in the body and it is alone, it has no supporters, but we have friends, drugs and doctors that are always being monitored, and the most important thing is Mom's and Dad's encouragement - that you're not alone, we are here and we'll get better together with you. These words were very encouraging. There were times when I didn't feel well, I had the chills, severe nausea, and loss of appetite. Why is this happening to me? There's no answer to that said Lital, but what's important is that we discovered the disease at an early stage, and that way it will be easier to eradicate it and get you better.
One morning when I woke up and I combed my hair it fell out in handfuls. I asked Lital why that was happening and Lital told me that I had two more radiation sessions and after the second one I'd begin to feel better.
Mom and Dad brought me a big birthday cake. What moved me the most was that my teacher and classmates came to visit me. Everyone brought me a card, and promised me that once I got better and went back to school, I'd go to a different classmate's house every day, and they'd help me with my studies. I felt overjoyed, I received encouragement and support, I felt that I wasn't alone, and my spirits were lifted. It's so good to believe in yourself even when you don't feel well. I was always thinking that I'd beat the disease, my body is strong, Mom and Dad love me, everyone is waiting for me and I will win.
After some time I felt even better. My hair stopped falling out, I was more sure of myself. I regained my appetite. One day the doctor and Lital called me to the doctor's office, and my parents had a smile on their faces. Finally you are going home son, you have won the disease, you are no longer sick, you are going home. At home all my friends were waiting for me and there was joy in the air. Kids, I know that you'll also go home, just believe in yourselves and in those around you who love you.
Kids, I wish you all the best, and be strong, your parents need you among the living. And you parents, I know that you are going through a rough time and that you're losing emotional and physical strength, and that it's hard for you to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But be strong.
You're welcome to write to me at: 21 Warburg Blvd. Apt. 15, Kiryat Haim