What a way to see in the new year. Donal was in hospital for his final week of immunotherapy. As James was off school we decided to bring him to Dublin with us. Donal really adores his big brother James and was delighted to have him there during the day. As only one parent can sleep in the hospital with Donal, Andy and I took turns to spend the nights with him.
This all seemed great when we planned it, we would be together as a family during the day, even if it was in a hospital room. The last few cycles had been relatively OK, so we really expected this one to be the same but we should have known by now, you can’t plan anything.
The first days weren’t so bad, Donal tolerated the treatment well but by the evening of day 2 the pain had increased dramatically, so much so that he became very agitated and shouted that the pain was at a level of 2,060 out of 10 and he was only not shouting a lot louder because he didn’t want to wake the babies on the ward. He even said he would give away all his lego (even his Christmas sets) just to make it stop. The doctors kept increasing his morphine levels through the evening until eventually I managed to get him to sleep. During the next day (new years eve) he was still agitated and emotional but the pain seemed to be managed better. That evening it was my turn to stay with James so we left the hospital just before bed time. I got a phone call a few hours later as Donal was very upset. He had seen a Irish Cancer Society advert on the telly and was shouting at Andy saying that that not all cancers had to be treated and that we had decided to put him through all this treatment and that we had no idea how much pain he has been through. Those bloody adverts! How do you explain these things to a 7 year old scared, angry little boy, explain things we struggle to understand. We know that the questions will not go away and we have to face them and keep talking to him. We have kept him so sheltered over the last 14 months but even them, people will often talk about losing loved ones to cancer and not realise that Donal picks up on everything. We know that we can’t keep him sheltered away forever and the more he hears about cancer the more difficult questions we will get. He will have to go back to school soon but we already know that some kids at the school are saying that if you play with Donal you will get cancer too, what else are they going to say to him?
There is one inevitable question that we know will come and goodness knows how we are going to deal with that one.
Donal is very close to finishing his immunotherapy treatment, it’s been a long 6 months. The next step will be all his tests and scans to find out where he is at, these should happen in the next month or so. Please keep everything crossed for us, we really need these scans to be clear as there is very few options left for Donal if they are not.