Celebrating birthdays at CANSA TLC
In between the hustle and bustle of Shavathon, we want to pause for a short while and share a part of the journey our CANSA-TLC National Project Manager for childhood cancer support, Vera van Dalen, walked with a family affected by cancer.
“Today I spent time with yet again another family who is on the verge of saying goodbye to a little man who told his mom some time ago, that if the time comes, he does not want to know that he is terminal. So for now he is playing and smiling and just getting more tired than usual.
According to him though, he is preparing for his next birthday and counting the days. We all hope he will still be with his family to celebrate one more birthday. To him this will be a special day, but sadly it is a few weeks away and a few weeks may be just too long.
So we’ve decided that clever kids can have birthdays whenever they want, as many times as they want, and they can also decide how old they want to be. We’re changing all the rules. Seeing the smile and the growing excitement is so precious as we are so aware of the precious moments left. He is going to have a family birthday; he will be eight, his brother of nine must be 23, his mom must be 12, and his dad must be 21, and they all must become super characters and have just the best birthday ever. Mom and dad, I know how terribly hard it is to play along, pretending to enjoy the excitement while knowing the urgency of an emergency birthday.
It reminded me of a time when I had to prepare a little man who was also sad about only one fact: that he wouldn’t be able to celebrate his sixth birthday. I told him then that he can still celebrate it, but that I won’t be able to organise it. Without further explanation he said: ‘Mommy, I want you to go on your knees to pray and order a Dalmatian cake for my birthday from Jesus, and tell Him to invite all the children in heaven to celebrate with me.’ And as the parents of today planned and had ‘fun and smiles’, I felt their tears, lump in the throat and intense pain.
I once again salute the onco parents who all crawl the extra mile, torn inside while “having fun” for one more memory.”
Read more about the CANSA TLC (Tough Living with Cancer) programme for children and teens diagnosed with cancer or affected by cancer (a family member has cancer). CANSA provides the following services as part of the TLC programme:
- The CANSA TLC Nicus Lodge at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria is a facility for parents whose children are undergoing treatment. We have now opened a new CANSA TLC Paediatric Oncology Ward at the Pietersburg Provincial Hospital in Polokwane.
- Read more about the TLC Child Therapy & Support Room at our Kimberley CANSA Care Centre
- Parents can also join the TLC Facebook group in order to share with others in a similar position.
- Teens with cancer or affected by cancer can join the Teens Living with Cancer Facebook Group in order to share with others.
View our video, showing the CANSA TLC Nicus Lodge at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital.
CANSA TLC strives to inform the public and to refer children to the correct specialists for treatment. Paediatric Oncologists are doctors who have specialised in children’s cancers and they are equipped to make a diagnosis and to recommend a treatment strategy. An incorrect diagnosis by someone less knowledgeable, can allow the cancer time to build up resistance to treatment. The quicker a child is diagnosed correctly, the better his or her chance of survival. Read more about the Warning Signs of Children’s Cancers…
Parents in need of support are invited to join a TLC Support Group in their area, or to help establish one if there isn’t yet one. For more information regarding this, contact Vera van Dalen at firstname.lastname@example.org – Stories of HOPE may also be shared via this email address.
Be a Gift to a Child in Need:
Please consider making a donation towards supporting our TLC programme so that we can help more children and families. Donations will assist with the provision of prosthetic support (children who have lost an eye or limb); the provision of wheelchairs; pain control implants and medical equipment.