Yesterday, as I waited in the clinic for my appointment I was greeted by an uncommon sight, another young person. I should be more specific, there are always twenty somethings around, the nurses for example predominantly appear to fall within my age bracket. You will also find a lot of visitors who were born in the 1980s hanging around with their loved ones. You do not see many young patients. Yesterday however waiting for treatment with all the other cancer patients, was a young man, in his early twenties, sitting with his mum.
I did a lot of waiting yesterday, so I used some of my ninety minute wait for treatment to watch them. It passed the time. He didn’t have to wait as long as me, and before he was called through to what I call the Cannula Bay, the young man and his mum were partaking in some jovial conversation. He was mostly playing on his phone and she was smiling, looking like a mum with a bag of food products. He was wearing jeans, a t shirt and a nice loafer. He looked normal and were it not for some bandages on his arm and the slab of pills I saw him take, you would have thought that his mother was the patient because in the law of averages, that would be the most likely scenario and the one I see every time I am in the clinic. After half an hour of watching them and a packet of Skips later, the young man received the enviable tap on the shoulder and was called through to the Cannula Bay. He got up, walked through the reception chairs and gave his mum a quick tap on the shoulder. His mum watched as he walked out of sight into the Bay, and then as soon as he was seated, she turned, looked at the red and white floor with the inspirational quotes and began to cry.
I then hijacked her private moment, and also started to cry.
By the time the young man returned, I was still waiting, but his mum had composed herself and produced a muffin for her offspring and they made their way to the big red comfy chairs at the back of the floor. And there they sat and remained for the duration of my treatment, occasionally breaking from speaking to each other to speak to the Medically Trained People. He was receiving drugs via a cannula and all the while, the mum held a sturdy smile on her face and continued to produce food products as and when they were required.
I do not know how mums do it.
I know that cancer in a child is not the worst thing that can happen to a parent, but it is not exactly a celebration. I do not think a mum can prepare for this. There is not an insurance for this and I sincerely hope it is not something parents envisage. Future, should only be for the good stuff.
A mum should not think about having to care for their child with cancer, let alone have to care for their child with cancer.
This isn’t supposed to happen.