I lay in bed one day and as I looked at my life, I realised it was perfect. I had a beautiful home and a good job which I enjoyed. My husband was also employed, and together we had two perfect children; Austin, the eldest, and Lisa. Then it all changed.
Two years from that day, Austin was 13 and a child who was hardly ever sick. Out of the blue, he was diagnosed with leukaemia. My son was a lively, bouncy big boy with size 3 feet. He was active, played cricket and like any young boy was always on the move. He had a great sense of humour and loved playing pranks. He had a warm, compassionate and considerate nature. Each day he would ask me how my day had gone and if all was well at work. If I‘d had a hard day at work, he would ask, “Why are you sad Mommy?”
Before my very eyes, Austin suddenly became withdrawn and fatigued. He lost his appetite and even went off his favourite foods. He began to tire easily and started losing weight. The fatigue was such that he could no longer walk home from school and instead would ask to be fetched every day. He started sweating a lot and struggled with tummy aches and headaches.
We took him to our doctor, who noticed an enlarged spleen with a very high white blood count. My husband and I were seen alone and were informed that Austin had leukaemia. We were utterly shocked; I was in no way prepared for this diagnosis.
Austin was subsequently referred to Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in Durban and diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. When he was told of his diagnosis, he just gave up hope. He knew I had already lost my beloved mother and loving aunt to cancer, and so in his mind the situation seemed hopeless.
I put my life on hold and left my job. Leaving my younger child, husband and extended family in Harding, I moved in with family living in and around Durban. I decided to dedicate my life to Austin because nothing mattered to me except that he had to get better. A very good friend of mine once said “Cancer is a very lonely illness”.I later came to realise how true this was.
While in hospital at my child’s bedside, I began to come undone with the stress of it all. I was forced to accept my relatives had their own lives and could not always fetch and drop me for hospital visits. It was then I discovered the CHOC Lodge. I am so grateful to have the comfort of CHOC, with warm meals and endless support from mothers and staff alike. CHOC is a home to me and to Austin.
As of now, Austin has lost a year of schooling and I am still unemployed. My husband looks after us from our home in Harding, where my daughter is growing up without a mother. In spite of all this I have hope. I have accepted Austin’s diagnosis and do not question God’s wisdom in the matter. Austin continues to go for chemotherapy and radiation.
The news is not always good. “May Austin’s soul rest in peace.”