18 SepChildhood Cancer Awareness Month
September 2018 is childhood cancer awareness month. Many people think that hospices are full of children dying from cancer, but the reality we have seen is extremely different. Services for children with cancer are slowly improving in the major cities in China and we do not see large numbers of children with cancer abandoned in the local orphanage in Changsha.
Childhood cancer awareness month allows us time to reflect on two dear children we had the privilege to care for: Sophie and Stephen.
Sophie was suffering from a large, aggressive cancer which caused her face to swell. An operation to remove the tumour was unsuccessful and it continued to grow rapidly. When she was transferred into our care we knew she would not have long, we focused on making every moment count and ensuring she was comfortable. On the day Sophie died, she had spent time in the arms of our head nurse, Katie,
listening to Michael Buble songs.
Sophie left us about an hour after this calm, peaceful time together and her Ayi’s shared their stories and sorrows as they tearfully said goodbye to little treasured little girl. Everyone who met her was blessed with a little of her light and we were honoured to be her family at the end of her short life. We know her light continues to shine brightly.
Stephen was another dear child who suffered from cancer, a brain tumour. He was only with us for one short week while Katie tried desperately to organise surgery for him in order to ease the pressure inside his skull with the assistance of the Baobei Foundation in Shanghai. The office staff worked late all week, trying to get all the paperwork in order and arrange transport. However, as the time drew nearer for them to go we knew Stephen was too weak. Stephen died before we could arrange surgery, cared for and looked after around the clock by nurses Gina and Crystal who worked beyond their job descriptions to make sure he was loved, cherished and as comfortable as possible. He was worth every single minute.