Dumbledore is back and she's scratching her heads with the rest of us about the new General Hospital storyline.
In amongst a very busy week, I have also been watching a soap opera. A soap opera I’ve never watched before – why the heck would I do that?
You guessed it. Wilms tumor.
Despite being the second most common type of childhood cancer, Wilms is considered rare. Most people have never heard of it. I certainly hadn’t. It’s a shibboleth. If you know the word Wilms, either your kid had it…or you’re a pediatric oncologist.
So, most of us learn to say “kidney cancer” when we’re talking to “civilians” in the war of childhood cancer.
Well, on General Hospital this week, they actually used the word. I heard the buzz, so I checked it out.
Which is worse – no information about Wilms out in the world, or wrong information?
Hey, it’s a soap opera. I don’t expect to see 6-24 months of treatment, or the moment when you realize that the reason your child looks so … different … is because they’ve lost their eyelashes. I don’t expect to see the mom making a 2000 calorie milkshake in a pathetic attempt to add some weight to their kid.
Even the most dramatic – and completely unrealistic/wrong/stupid part of the story arc – didn’t faze me. Another child is mortally hit by a car, so his kidney goes to the Wilms child. Presto! Instant cure for cancer!
You know, even that flight of fancy didn’t bug me too much. Because having nothing to do with this show, when your child is diagnosed with Wilms, if you’re lucky to have a lot of love in your life, you’ll probably have at least one person offer up a kidney. And you’ll thank them, and explain that the doctors don’t treat Wilms that way, but you’ll both go away with a warm feeling.
No, the part that bugged me was when the mom began railing that she had to get a donor kidney, because otherwise, (escalating anxiety), they were going to start her daughter on chemo that night!
One dose of chemo! OH NO!!!
See, the other stuff, I don’t think it will actually affect anyone. Yeah, parents whose children were diagnosed with Wilms this week might have Aunt Edna calling up to offer her kidney, but no biggie there.
But deciding to let your child receive chemo is hard enough. They’re gonna lose their hair, feel sick, get skinny. But it’s worth it. Because most of the time, it will save their life.
We called chemo “liquid diamonds.” I loved chemo. Every drop was getting my kid closer to being healthy again.
And it’s not just for getting rid of the cancer you know about. Here’s irony: when my daughter got the harshest chemo, she might not have had a cancer cell in her. See, she had a recurrence, picked up on a routine scan. They went in for the biopsy, took out all the cancer they saw (very small), and sent it off to the lab. It came back: Wilms.
Perhaps it was all gone. But the chance was also there that cells had spilled during surgery (one of the “spots” was like a liquid filled blister). Or that there might be other microscopic cells somewhere else.
So, we embarked on chemo. That wasn’t a risk we were willing to “wait and see” about.
It was a difficult decision. Having the idea in my head that chemo is the worst possible thing for your child, that you would be panicky, shrieking, at the idea of your child getting one dose, wouldn’t have helped.
We don’t know what the future will bring. But today…my kid is alive.
What are your thoughts? Unlike General Hospital, we could probably extend this into a multi-post arc.