A thick stack of papers lay on the table before me. Only moments before I had shuffled through them all, one by one, perusing the ominous details and statistics of what may or may not happen. My mind was buzzing slightly louder than the fluorescent lighting above the conference table.
It was all very official. There was no plea bargain being offered. And it was apparent that this was the best deal we were going to get. I looked up from the stack of papers at the panel of doctors sitting across from me and shook my head yes. We’ll take the deal.
“Do you have any other questions?” The nice man sitting across from me – a doctor I’d grown to love and respect – had on his “serious hat” today. I could see the glint of compassion in his eyes. And the hesitation he held in his voice when I asked if he would do to his child what I was getting ready to do to my own. It was almost unbearable to realize that it didn’t matter what someone else would do in my shoes… this was the only option.
Sign here. And here. And then here. I so wanted my signature to be allowing something awesome: A dream home. A new car. Or, perhaps, new hire paperwork. Not signing something that would allow them to subject my son to poison and pain and possible death. How do you sign papers like that? I still don’t know how I made my pen scrawl my signature. Oh, wait. Cancer was holding a gun to my head. There was no choice but to try to stop it in its tracks.
I couldn’t think about the side effects now. I had to do what I could to save my son first. The rest would play out however it played out. At least, it would if he survived.
Well, now my friends, we’re here. Ben has fought. And fought. And fought. There’s the beautiful position of being cancer-free but now those evil side effects are rearing their ugly head. Short stature. Severe hearing loss. Scoliosis. Missing teeth and gum grafts. Learning disabilities. The inability to procreate. The threat of a secondary cancer. Or, the simple fact that he’s high risk for relapsing with the original beast.
I’m in a really foul mood today. I know it shows in my writing. But as I type, my son is sitting at the kitchen table struggling through a math lesson with his home/hospital teacher. He just threw up. He has a headache. He just wants to sleep. But, he’s dedicated to getting through learning how to multiply fractions or some nonsense like that. Who the frick cares? I can attest that he will NEVER need to know how to multiply fractions in his every day life. And, if by some weird chance he does? I think there’ s probably an app for that.
Would I change subjecting him to all the experimental therapy? I don’t think I would. Or better stated, I don’t think I could. He’s still here. He has a reasonable quality of life. He is a bright, amazing, loving, caring and compassionate child. If cancer hasn’t made him a bitter troll like his mom seems to be (at least, how she is today) then I guess cancer hasn’t won anything at all. Side effects be damned.
Ben is winning. Take that, cancer. Oh wait. Take nothing.
You’ve taken enough.