Below is a letter penned by Ethan’s Mom, Gila Jacobs, in January as a means of releasing all the emotions bottled up inside of her. Gila has kindly agreed to send us her thoughts regularly from now on ….
Its night-time in the Pediatric Oncology ward, and for once, peaceful. I have been here for five days now and should be exhausted but I’m disturbed. I cannot relax and fall asleep – I keep looking around me at these LITTLE children with such BIG problems and I just don’t understand. Why them? What did they do to deserve this? Brain tumors, transplants, lumber punctures, drips and scans and tests and then more tests… bio hazardous medications that come in all different colours. Days and nights spent on drips in confinement. Fighting for lives they are yet to even start. Why them? Why now when they are so young? So much for a “Welcome to the World” gift.
Here I’m known as “Ma Jacobs” or “The Mom” because I am the mother of my son – the patient – before anything else. I’m the person at his bedside. The one they talk to about his condition, the one they give the test results to. The one who does the worrying, the paperwork, the planning with the doctors and the person who signs consent for strangers to do all sorts of horrible things to my child. I’m the one. The one who provides wee for testing, who holds down for pricking, holds up for x-rays, holds tight to soothe the crying. I’m the one. The one who reports back to doctors and nurses on how his eating, drinking, even excreting. The centre of this universe my son was born into. The universe of cancer cells… where are they? What are they doing? Are they spreading, are they removed… will they come back?
My son was 14 months old when he was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that could originate anywhere in the body. His had developed in the muscle tissue of his right thigh. We could not see it at first; we could only feel a very hard mass, something like a small egg that was part of his muscle. My husband identified it first… coming to me and asking what this felt like. What could it be?
Unlike many other moms I’ve spoken to… I must confess that the first thing that came to my mind was… Please God, let it not be cancer.
I spent no time in denial; I made the earliest appointment at a Pediatrician as I could. I knew very well the key to beating cancer was early diagnosis… after all, three of my close family members had already succumbed to the disease. I was spun into hyper-drive from that very second I felt it.
So my journey began… I remember everything as being quick and fast and a blur of scans and results and biopsy’s and eventually the phone call…
Mrs. Jacobs, are you sitting down? We have the results of the biopsy. Unfortunately he mass is cancerous…
This happened approximately a year ago, the mass was surgically removed. The cancer was gone, but the chemotherapy had just begun. A 51 week treatment plan involving chemotherapy and radiation, 51 weeks was a very long time. Time I was afraid to live through.
My name is Gila Jacobs, my son Ethan is recovering from cancer. My husband and I are recovering from shock, stress, financial burdens due to medical bills and plain and simple exhaustion. This is our story.