While OpenText spends a lot of time focused on the digital transformation happening, we sometimes need to address the transformations taking place within people. Hardship strike us all and we all have our journeys. In this series, I focus on telling these stories. This is mine.
It’s the one phone call I will never forget.
After my brother told me that his son was heading to McMaster University Hospital to undergo tests for mysterious leg pains, he called me a few hours later. I was at work, busy on a campaign, when my phone rang and a voice inside of me instructed me to take the call in a secluded hallway.
“After chest X-rays and a bone marrow test, they have confirmed that he has cancer. He is going into induction now for six weeks. You will not be able to visit him because the chemo will weaken his immunity and increase risk of infection. Keep my son in your prayers.”
This was my nephew. Four years old. In junior kindergarten. Carried to the washroom at school because his teacher said his leg pain was too much for him to bear. Unable to walk up the stairs to his bedroom at home. Complaining that the pain was not going away. My sister-in-law threw away theories of it being ‘growing pains’. She took him to their pediatrician (an oncologist by profession) who, from the blood tests, deduced his low white blood cell count was something more serious. “Go right away to the hospital for tests.”
No one saw it coming. No one wanted to accept it. No one was prepared.
I stood in the hallway sobbing as I remembered my nephew’s kind eyes and hearty laughter.
Soon after, my nephew was diagnosed with ALL – Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a type of blood cancer common in children.
Every week I called him at the hospital, with my stomach in knots, hoping to hear his sweet voice. I cannot remember the names of all the tests, the drugs or therapies this poor kid went through.
And boy, was he agitated. Couldn’t keep him on the phone for longer than a minute. I could hear the suffering in his voice even though he would say, “Aunty Shama, I am ok.” Tears would well up each time my brother told me about the seven needles inserted in his legs, bone marrow extractions, and the dexamethasone steroids (we coined as “Dexter” after the famous series) that changed him into a completely different boy. We were all a mess.
Today, my nephew is eleven years old. He is in remission. He is brave. He is strong. He says he wants to be an oncologist to stop this from happening to others his age. He made friends in the cancer ward. He lost friends too.
And although he is cancer-free, what happened to him was not fair.
But cancer is not fair. It does not care. Cancer doesn’t discriminate against gender, race, religion or age. A diabolical disease.
On October 19th, I am walking with my brave CEO, Mark Barrenechea, for my nephew and in memory of every single person affected by cancer to raise awareness and funds for leukemia research.
And without a doubt, when my nephew becomes an oncologist, together our efforts now, will help create a brighter future – a cure to end this disease once and for all. Amen.
Visit my page to donate!