I didn’t even remember the last time I had a teddy bear. Just before my sojourn to the Balkans, I was approached by Firdaus with whom I met over dinner to collect the travelling beruang. Why would a twenty-over years old grown-up clutch a teddy bear clad in a shirt that read travelling beruang as she travelled through Southeastern Europe? It was a question I had been asked relentlessly. Some dismissed it as an “Asian thing” and the others were touched as I explained the cause for the travelling beruang.
Travelling Beruang is a campaign to show support towards Malaysian children diagnosed with cancer. Most of them are sick and bed-ridden, so they cannot travel and see the beautiful places around the world. So the campaign is to bring the world to them by capturing pictures of the travelling beruang around the world.
Mira knew of a doctor in Istanbul who had graciously invited us to visit oncology ward at the hospital he was working at. Since we had a day of transit in Istanbul, we accepted the invitation and went to the hospital; not before getting lost for 2 hours and disorientated for almost everyone we bumped into at the hospital did not speak English. We had to show the picture of the doctor as pronunciation of his name was pronounced slightly different by our Malay tongues. Nobody understood us.
Once we met Dr. Asharaf, he treated us to a good breakfast – Istanbul style.
It was time for a hospital visit to see the kids who are suffering from cancer. Kid cancer is different from the cancers we normally hear of adults. The most common types of cancer for children are leukimia, brain and other central nervous system tumors, neuroblastoma, wilms tumor, lymphoma (including both hodgkin and non-hodgkin), bone cancer and retinoblastoma.
There were 5 children being warded when we were there. All refused to have their pictures taken except one year and 7 months old baby, Shehnaz from Kaska, Syria, whose mother was very content with our visit. Shehnaz was oblivious as to her condition, as in all cases with kids below the age of 10 years. She rejoiced when she saw our travelling beruang. She wanted to have it like little Omar who was playing on his own at the play room. They have bald heads, a side effect of the chemotherapy session they had to undergo once every three months depending on their situations.
Shehnaz (picture above) is suffering from Neuroblastoma, meanwhile Omar suffers from Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer. All of the children warded were from Syria. The Turkish government is funding the costs for their treatments.
Emotionally laden, it broke my heart to see them suffering pain at such tender ages. Some kids were cranky, but their mothers patiently tended to them. According to the doctor, the mothers were always there for their children. He hardly saw the fathers. One is left to wander the whereabouts of the sick kids’ daddies.
We were given an emotional tour around the ward.
Little Omar would not walk into this room. It was the most hated place in the ward by all kids. They knew they would be jabbed to have their blood tested. Some went hysterically upon being brought into this room.
Kid cancer is a battle of the whole family especially the mothers. When we were brought to the staircase, Dr. Asharaf told us it was the place where mothers cry their hearts out. The white bottle was used to throw their cigarette buts. I could not imagine how depressing it was to be in their shoes. For all the pains suffered by your kids, you have to put up a brave front so as to give the kids motivation to live and stay strong. A very emotional place.
Our children are our angels,
A true gift from up above.
From the moment that we see them,
Our world is flooded by love.
In life now all that matters,
Is their safety and their health.
Not everything that came before,
Like sleep, nights out or wealth.
Then suddenly from out the blue,
A bolt falls from the sky.
Your family life just falls apart,
And you can’t help wonder why?
An existence you knew nothing of,
Suddenly , becomes the norm.
You forget what life was like before,
You walked into this terrifying storm.
You sit beside your baby,
Feeling helpless as can be.
As nurses fight to help them,
And you pray a silent plea…
Why is this happening?
What can I do?
How do I take this pain
and suffering from You?
The truth is there’s nothing,
We as parents can do.
But support and gain strength,
From the childhood cancer crew.
For many their battles,
are far too relentless and long,
As they pray that they will one day,
Be free from cancer’s evil throng.
We are thankful for survivors,
Those children who’ve won the war.
But we remember those who fly high above,
through the skies they soar.
There’s many that still believe,
that “this won’t happen to me!”
But the day before my child was ill
I too had failed to see…
That childhood cancer happens.
It doesn’t care, who it strikes next.
But please be aware of its poison,
And it’s poisonous effects!
These children and their families,
Fight their battles hand in hand.
We will one day discover a cure,
And united we will stand!
(Henry’s mum, brain tumour fighter) (as published at http://kieranmaxwellblog.blogspot.my/2013/08/poem-about-childhood-cancer.html on 2nd August 2013)