CHILDHOOD CANCER. One of the most terrific combination of words. One that now is printed in my soul, but which i honestly wanted to hide away from years ago. This two words scared me a lot. I simply couldnt understand why such beautiful and innocent creatures could suffer so much. It all sounded so wrong. I couldnt listen about that without wanting to hide. But God had different plans. He set on my heart the desire of getting close. So i did.
I started volunteering on a hospital with cancer kids. Soon, the checkup routines, medicine names, chemotherapies, kids throwing up or battles against eating food became familiar to me. But that is just the surface. That is not what childhood cancer really means. That is not what my children have taught to me.
During my time there i have witnessed the moment in which kids got informed about their cancer diagnose for the first time. I have learned the unpredictability of our lives. I have heard kids telling me they are having a good day when in fact i know their bodies are hurting a lot. I have learned about optimism. I have seen kids becoming the happiest when someone comes to visit them. I have learned how much it means to share a bit of our time.
I have heard kids whose legs will be amputated talking about how fast they will “run” with their wheelchairs. I learned about having a good attitude and accepting what life throws to us. I have seen kids receiving anonymous donations or gifts. I have learned about authentic solidarity. I have had dozens of “bad hair days” and then encountered sweet little girls proudly showing me their shaved heads. I have learned about perspective.
I have seen kids walking their first steps with prothesis. I have learned about courage. I have seen children faces radiate while sharing with me their biggest dreams. I have learned the importance of pursuing our passions. I have heard kids telling their parents they will get cured without hesitation. I have learned about determination.
I have held their hands while the nurses come close with a syringe. I have learned we can always overcome our fears. I have told and listened many life stories. I have learned the beauty of sharing with others who we are. I have seen parents hiding their tears just to make it easier for their kids. I have learned to sacrifice for love. I have celebrated a free cancer kid. I have learned what true happiness is.
I have seen pain disappeared with joy. I learned laughter is the best medicine of all. I have seen some of those kids turning now into volunteers. I have learned how hearts can grow and give away love after going through so much pain. I have seen the fear in a child´s face. I have learned about the power of comforting others with a hug. I have seen the happiness of a child when getting letters from a loved one. I have learned about the important things in life. I have seen kids unexpectedly getting cured. I have learned the miracle of prayer.
I have listened many kids telling me they cant wait to simply go back to school. I have learned to not take daily things for granted. I have laughed and laughed with them. I have learned a bit of humor can make a difference in your whole day. I have sat in beds which suddenly turn into “spacecrafts” “boats” or “sleeping beauty” ones. I have learned to see the world through children´s eyes. I have cried over the loss of kids. I have learned that death is hard but it is only a “see you later” and not a “goodbye”.
I have seen the doctors and nurses caring and loving the kids. I have learned what vocation means. I have seen the littlest bodies enduring so much pain. I have learned about strength. I have seen parents crushing in the aisle. I have learned what complete surrender to God meant. I have heard kids giggling and talking with the other hospitalized kids. I have learned how easy it is to start a friendship.
I have seen kids being cured and go back to their “normal” lives with the most loving and positive attitude and biggest smiles. I have learned what it means to be proud of someone. I have heard some of the best jokes inside those rooms. I have learned kids can turn any place into a feast.
I have met the most wonderful volunteers. I have learned what it means to serve. I have heard kids thanking God for a day with a little less pain. I have learned about gratitude. I got to know the best kids in the whole world. I have learned sometimes the best friendships come in the smallest packages. I have seen kids and parents trusting and offering all to God. I have learned the real meaning of faith. I have seen kids fighting with all what they are to be alive. I have learned why i simply cant ever give up.
I´m amazed of how much my heart has grown since i first started going there. How much this children mean for me now. I realized that the best thing i can do while i live in this world is to share my time with others.
But most of all i have learned about love. Love from the nurses and doctors who work daily to help the kids and cure their diseases. Love from the parents who eat nearly nothing and uncomfortably sleep on a chair without even complain, always staying next to them. And of course, love to God in the most genuine way, even when suffering is involved or things seem unfair. I have learned cancer can cause a lot of pain, but it cant kill friendship, love, faith or hope.
The pain this children and their families go through still breaks my heart, it is simply too big to fully understand. And most of the time, it hurts me to think there´s nothing i can do about that. But even if we cant take away their pain, there are many ways in which we can help. Donating, volunteering, getting informed, visiting and collaborating with organizations, researching online, praying, spending quality time with them, learning about its symptoms and promoting how to detect it earlier, offering your ears to parents who are in need of speaking their hearts out, donating your hair to make wigs or talking about it so more people get aware of this topic are just some of the things we can do to help.
September is the Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, but the truth is every single day there are kids fighting with this, being diagnosed, losing their lives. So we cant stop it here. We must continue to raise awareness the rest of our lives, while they fight to live theirs.
Over the last years i have met the bravest and most adorable superheroes in the world. Some of them changed their capes for angel wings, but for me all of them still live. In my heart they will forever and always be alive.
My little warriors, i wanna thank each one of you and your parents with all of my heart. Thanks for letting me come in during such a difficult moment in your life and treating me like family all the time. You have taught me there is no disease stronger than our hearts and smiles, and that this life is worth any fight!! Thanks for being my teachers. Thanks for painting my heart with gold. I ought you so much. And i promise i will never stop being your voice. I WONT LET YOU FIGHT THIS BATTLE ALONE.