My First Encounter with Cancer

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Life's Cruel Reality

Life is a flower, with the morning dew it rises and blooms, but with the scorching sun rays it withers and dies. An innocent child of 10 would come to believe this to be true, with the painful memory gnawing at every corner of his being.

A Brother Lost

Steve was like a big brother to me. Sometimes it felt like he knew me more than I knew myself. He always gave me advice on school and bullies, advice on girls, he helped me with homework, and we played video games together and took me to the mall occasionally. I lost all these during one of his weekly visits when instead of playing video games like we used to do, he sat me down and informed me that he suffered from Leukaemia and that he would be at the hospital for a while. Knowing how strong he was, I knew he would be out of the hospital in a jiffy. I wish I knew what Leukaemia was because I would have prepared for the heartache that I carry with me. Then I wonder if it is ever possible to prepare for the death of a loved one.

A Tragic Visit

After wallowing and complaining, my mom could not take it, and she took me to the hospital to see him. I remember the moment I laid my eyes on him. I was in a trance of mixed emotions, anger, fear, loss, hurt, confusion, and standing there dumbstruck. I did not know which emotion to deal with first. Therefore, I did the only thing I knew how to do at the time, I cried myself to sleep. When I woke up, I was in my bed. I went to my mom and asked her what happened. I asked her what Leukaemia was, why Steve looked like that. I asked her a million questions. She gave me a one-word answer that explained everything. It revealed why Steve lied in bed weak, hairless, hands trembling, cracked lips, pale skin, and barely talking. "Cancer", my mom had replied.

A Year of Struggles

For the next year, I had visited Steve every day after school. Sometimes I carried a portable Play Station for us to play, other times I took my homework to ask him for help. But most of the times I told him about the girls I was crushing on. I remember during one of my visits he started coughing really bad and when he removed his handkerchief from his mouth, there was blood on it. Being the strong person he was he tried to excuse himself to the bathroom only for him to fall and hit his head on the edge of the toilet seat. Being weak and small I ran shouting at the top of my voice asking for help. I have never felt so useless in my life. By the time a nurse was helping him up, there had been a pool of blood oozing from his unconscious head. I saw panic in the eyes of the nurse while she called the doctor and started administering CPU. Knowing you will never see someone you love, there is no worse feeling than seeing doctors and nurses with panic-stricken faces rushing about and trying to save your friend.

A Glimpse of Hope

The next few weeks were more difficult than anyone could imagine. I took my video games and homework on my hospital visits but soon realized they were of no use. Slowly I started realizing that the will to live was being sucked out of him. Desperate to have my Steve back, I started praying for a miracle.

A Moment of Joy

One day after school when I went to visit him, I found him seating on his bed and eating an apple all by himself. To say I was overcome with joy would be an understatement. That would remain one of the best days we had during his treatments. From that day, he started improving until the doctors gave us the good news. The cancer was gone, and Steve could go back home. We could go back to playing video games, doing my homework, and getting numerous advice from him. I had my Steve back. Boy was I glad that the one year of dreadful, sad, long, and horrific hospital visits was over.

A Devastating Setback

However, do not count your chicks before they hatch. We were back in a hospital. Cancer returned, and this time it was worse because only a bone marrow transplant could save his life. Everyone was anxious, scared, melancholic, and angry. I remember promising God that I would stop stealing candy from the teacher's desk if He only saved Steve.

A Heartbreaking Loss

Hours after the surgery, the doctor gave us the sad news. Steve did not undergo a successful surgery. It got complicated, and his kidney was failing. One by one people started sitting grabbing for whatever they could to support the weight in their hearts. His mother was in frenzy, stricken with fear of what was coming. She was too shocked to cry. Tears went down my face profusely, crying in pain that Steve might not make it. The mood was unbearable.

In Loving Memory

A week later, Steve died from kidney failure, and we buried him. The burial was emotional, and we all missed him. We hoped it was a dream but we woke up days after just to realize it was not. Eight years later, I still miss him. I wish he would be around to give me the brotherly advice he used to. Unfortunately, I will have to push on and be strong, as he would want me to do. Rest in peace, Steve.

August 21, 2023




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