Friday, February 10, 2012

Life is Fragile...

I am amazed sometimes how quickly I can forget how fragile life can be. How excruciatingly delicate. On March 12, 2011, I participated in a fundraiser for St. Baldricks, an organization which raises money for kids' cancer research. When I say I participated, I mean that I had my hair, which is naturally curly, and was almost to the middle of my back in length at the longest layer, shaved off with clippers. What was long enough, we sent to Locks of Love, so it could be made into wigs for cancer patients.

The reason I participated in this event was because my friend Stacy has a son. Oliver. Her oldest child. Oliver was diagnosed two days before Christmas 2010 with DIPG, a rare and aggressive type of brain tumor that is inoperable. And incurable. When he was diagnosed, they told Stacy and Ed that they could expect approximately 6-9 months if they chose no treatment, and 9-18 if they chose to do some treatments that would extend his life. Of course, they chose the treatment.

On November 1st of 2011, Ed and Stacy took Oliver to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where he had an MRI. The results showed that the tumor had resumed growth. Hospice care was arranged. And Oliver was given 6-8 weeks to live the remainder of just over a decade of life. It's now been 14+ weeks. I can't help but smile that Oliver has continued to defy the odds of what he's "supposed" to do. What an amazing little fighter! And he's always so upbeat.

But the last two days have begun a rapid decline. Oliver told his mom and dad he's just ready to die. He understands more than any 10 1/2 year old ever should have to about what is happening to him and his body. And he is cognizant of everything that is going on around him. There is just no control of the body that is failing him.

As a mother who lost a child suddenly, I used to wonder if it would be different for me if I'd had some warning, some time to prepare... and now I know. It would have been absolute hell.

I just cannot even conceive of having to watch helplessly while my child slowly declined. It breaks my heart. Those parents are my heroes. And Oliver is my hero. Rock on, buddy. Rock on.

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