Wednesday, September 23, 2009
What’s so good about this morning? I have good news. The doctors say that my 9-year old grandson, Little Ed, is cancer free. After 13 weeks of radiation treatments, he will not require surgery for cancer in the colon and lower intestine. The bleeding ulcers are gone also.
I am still guardedly hopefully and prayerful that his recovery will be complete. His stomach and intestines are still raw from the treatments. He must drink Ensure three times a day until his insides heal.
Through it all, he never lost a beat. Maybe a few days out of school, otherwise his illness never took one iota of joy from his being a nine-year old kid. He has been vibrant, energetic, and no one could tell that he was so sick. In fact, everybody thought he was faking, at first- his school, his parents, and even his little sisters.
One day, he got sick while eating some cheese at school. [He is allergic to cheese]. It was a mistake, only to be repeated. However, I fault no one for the mistake. But his daily visits to the nurse’s office caused grandpa some concerns, because no conceived how seriously he was ill. I intervened and insisted on a full diagnosis, and that is when they discovered the cancer after extensive examination.
The X-ray pictures and scopes looked good at first. This reinforced the suspicion that he was faking. But the biopsy came back positive.
I was devastated, and made some vows that I must now keep. I vowed to shave my head, cut off my beard, and shave my mustache, so that Little Ed and Big Ed could be hairless together. It was an expression of the depth of my pain. Afterwards, I felt as weak as Sampson with no hair. I looked and felt like the 63-year old grandpa that I am. In fact, hairless, nobody recognized me, not even my own 84-year old mother.
I would tell Little Ed that he would be fine by the time our hair grew. Today, he is cancer free and back at school, with special doctor’s orders and permits.
The treatment took its toll, of course. At church, we had put him on our continuous prayer list. Then he was stricken with pneumonia and had to miss a few early school days. We updated our prayer list. Then, he fell off a trampoline and required seven stitches in his bottom lip.
He claims that some kids pick on him at school because they know he is sick, and he is also biracial. He was suspended for punching a girl who pushed him into another boy. [Needless to say, grandpa will be fighting for to expunge the disciplinary record.] He tells me that it is painful whenever a kid hits him in the stomach. And now, his stomach will get a chance to heal. He is on an Ensure diet.
He and I have been hanging out together more and more, since shaving our heads. We talk, grandpa to grandson, and visa versa. Never once, in all of our conversations, did he express fear, dismay, or hurt about his illness. There was not a hint of self-pity. In fact, he has been chipper all the while and even a bit mischievous at time. So, we talked about his punching the little girl and using poor judgment. [He is grounded for a month].
So, we talked extensively about behavior at school, church, home and everywhere, about being good and doing the right thing. I put a question to him. While driving along, we passed a neighborhood store where winos and drug addicts hang out. I told him that I did not want him to waste his life like this.
He is a kid who speaks so matter-of-factly. That was the way he spoke of his illness, and that was the way he replied. “I know I’m not going to wound up like that,” he replied, confidently.
He has a reputation in the family as being Mr. Know-It-All, so I asked, “How do you know?”
“I’m going to be a Christian,” he matter-of-factly answered.
For once, grandpa was dumbfounded and proud. His reply put a ton of lead in my belly. This was the same 9-year old who told me that he wanted to be like Barack Obama. He wanted to be President of the United States. How will he overcome the obstacles of poverty, deprivation, and degradation? He wants to be a Christian.
To show his sincerity and seriousness, he picked up the church bulletin in the car seat, looked at the church calendar, and said: “And I want to go to this, this, and this.”
Woe is grandpa on the spot. Now, I must pick him up for church, every Sunday, every Wednesday night, and every time the church doors open. Grandpa must now go to the nursing homes with the church on our given Saturdays, and preach when it is his time to preach.
Didn’t he know that grandpa was exhausted?
I wish and pray that I can make all the events at church and at school. Everybody and everything else in my life has been re-prioritized.
[This is the story of just one of my 10 grandchildren. They each have a different and unique story with grandpa]