A Childhood Cut Short

My name is Christine, and I am a 15-year-old childhood cancer survivor. I thought that after I was discharged from the hospital everything would be normal or even sort of normal, but of course that’s not how this story goes. You see, somewhere through all this my soul has been scared and a curse cast upon myself, a curse I will take to my grave.

I remember the day before I was brought into the hospital I was at my old cottage, my favorite place to be as a young and carefree little girl. I remember we were at my favorite beach, I was wearing my favorite pink top, that was of course weather inappropriate, even in our family photo I insisted on wearing my christening dress.I was a very independent little girl, I had perfect, curly, golden blond hair, but I never let my mom or dad do my hair or dress me.  I was as wild as my hair which meant I hated having it brushed, and it maintained  its radiance even in the wind of our common boat rides, and our open hooded car rides in the old Firebird convertible. I remember being just an untameable and happy kid.

My childhood was the best time of my life…apart from being punished for my random acts of boldness . I always look back and think about the life I had and could have had, I remember feeling as though  nothing could stop me… and boy was I wrong!

My story begins at the age of three at The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

I saw the tears in my mother’s eyes and the concern on my father’s face, With no clue as to why or what was happening I courageously asked, “What’s going on momma?” She didn’t reply, she just held my hand and started to cry, there were no words. 

When we found out that I had ALL, (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) my family members tried to explain to me what was going to happen, but I know now that nothing in the entire world could prepare me for what was about to happen. Less than 40% chance is not what anyone would have hoped for. But you can’t change the odds; you can only fight against them.

Before I knew it, I was hooked up to an IV and all my long blonde gorgeous hair was gone, once perfectly placed on my two-year-old head, was now on my pillow & no longer mine.

Looking back, all I had ever wanted as a child was to be loved and accepted. There was only one place I had ever felt equal and that was the fourth floor of the hospital where I was treated as a patient with leukemia. That was the one place I never looked at myself in the mirror and felt I didn’t belong. When I was there it was the only time I was not the only bald headed three year old with a hole in my chest. I was one of many little children fighting for her life. In that hospital I found all the love and care I could ever ask for.

A Childhood Cancer Survivor Poem

If I were invisible no one could see
I could go places I wouldn't be allowed to be
I'd see things no one else could
I'd do things no one else would.

This amazing ability seems not to exist
But I can feel it when I clench my fist
When I walk into the room not a soul does stare
It feels as if I'm not even there
Not a single person turns their face
No matter how hard I try to walk with grace.

So this wonderful feeling isn't so wonderful after all
No one will notice when you fall
Even if your heart falls out
Not even a rat will start to pout.

In a crowded room you're all alone
No one can hear you when you moan.
Yell and Scream all sorts of profanity
Go ahead, declare insanity.

No one even knows you breathe
A loneliness you could never conceive
It feels so bad to know that no one cares
It feels horrible to know that you're not there.

When your tears fall down with grace
No one is there to wipe your face
There's no hand you can hold and know it's going to be alright
There's no one you can talk to when you're scared late at night.

So if this feeling sounds good to you
Take my place, I want you to
But only if you can make it to the end
All the way without a friend
Without a soul by your side
No one in which to confide
Forever condemned to yourself
Forever alone,
Forever silent; forever invisible.
© 2016 Christine Mulvihill

Photo courtesy of author.