Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Five Hundred And Forty Three

I was handed the envelope by a gentleman who looked about my age, or perhaps just a few years older. He was greying a little, with a wider face and square jaw, classically handsome, but with hints of a tiredness in his appearance. He was dressed in faded jeans and a rust coloured cotton shirt, wearing black oxfords. The envelope was blank except for one word, one name rather, my own.  I opened it after the drive home, and read it while standing in the kitchen.

My name is Robert, and I am the father of Melissa, who is a long term childhood cancer survivor. Melissa was diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia about twelve years ago, and completed her chemotherapy treatment after a little over two and a half years. She is now seventeen years old, and is doing absolutely wonderfully now!  As a family, we have traveled a road that may be quite similar to the one you now face, and we would be happy to give you and your family whatever support you need.  Please feel free to call me anytime at 519-725-1234, or email me at"

I could feel it, the wave approaching, the lightness in my chest, and the foaming surge, but I fought hard, and pushed it back. The last time was about three months ago, at the cottage after watching Rudi fly out by Medevac helicopter to Ottawa with his mom, two days before his actual diagnosis.  For three months, we had mostly overcome our fear, and much of the emotional upheaval associated with your kid getting diagnosed with cancer. And now this, exactly what I needed, more than just about anything. Someone who has a very good idea where we are going, and is holding out their hand

But sadly, 'Robert' and 'Melissa' do not exist, and the letter does not exist, and that person holding out their hand and offering it that early on in our journey does not exist.  That is not to say we did not meet 'Robert' or 'Melissa', as we have, and many others, just that their names, and specific circumstances are different, but would it not be nice to get a letter as simple as that within the first month or two of your child's diagnosis?