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The courage of young children

Updated on February 14, 2012

Children and cancer

Children and cancer

There is something very special about children and the innocence they possess in their early youth. I can almost remember when I was a child and how I always looked up to my mother and father and all my family relatives. I had a very different view of life then as a young child then I do now. It is nice to be young and innocent. I have learned many things about children in just observing how they conduct themselves and act in front of others. They have a tremendous spirit and a courage that inspires and can teach us adults just as much as we try to teach them. Sadly I have seen children who were not always able to smile but their courage and their strength were truly heartwarming. It is not easy to visit a pediatric cancer ward but if you do anything that will truly make a difference before you get set in your ways and will teach you a lesson about life and show you the beauty of the human spirit through the eyes of a child it would be to volunteer your time to be supportive and befriend these special kids. It is such an emotional experience when you see children who are fighting to live and ask for nothing other than to be heard. They are so beautiful and they touch your heart and make you realize what is most important.

Children want to play and have fun and when you see children who are sick you realize they are no different. They too want to enjoy their time and be children. Despite the pain and suffering they must endure in their young lives they want to try to forget it for a brief moment and experience laughter, joy, happiness and good old fashioned fun. It seems so unfair that a child has to be struck down by cancer. Why is it that such a beautiful child has to live in such pain and with the sad reality that they will probably die way too young? I don't know what it is like for a child to have to go through chemotherapy and other cancer treatments and I don't know what it is like for the parents to have to see their child suffer as they try to provide them the best medical care they can. I do know what it is like to raise a child and have hope and promise for them and to want to see them free of pain and suffering. It just breaks my heart to see young children diagnosed with cancer. It is so unfair that these poor kids know only this kind of existence. The thing I find remarkable about these children is their heart, their courage and their innocence. They make you really understand what struggle really means and yet they don't view their lives as a struggle or feel that life is unfair. They just live their lives one day at a time despite the illness and are grateful for each day they have with their family.

I admire the doctors, nurses, therapists, medical staff and volunteers who work with these sick children every day in hopes of helping them to smile and to be kids. I admire the mothers and the fathers who provide their children with love, hope and optimism every day even when deep down they feel like crying and asking why their child has to be so sick. Children also learn from their parents so it is very important that a parent try to be strong for the sake of their child who is the one going through the treatment. A child will fight for their life each and every day until they can no longer and that is why it is so important for parents, medical professional and volunteers to always encourage these wonderful kids and show them the lighter side of life since what they are going through is so difficult.

Sometimes we feel a bit down in our own lives but we should realize that no matter how difficult we think we have it we can never imagine what it is like to be a kid suffering from a terrible illness that ravages the body as cancer does and will not only rob these children of their health but eventually will weaken them and ultimately kill them. This is what a child faces with cancer and yet despite the poor odds of survival for most of these children they still manage to smile and find simple joys with making friends and having visits with their parents and playing games. These are the simple pleasures of childhood and even cancer can not take that away from them. If I could make a wish for the benefit of mankind it would be to find a cure for these children so they can experience a full life and enjoy their childhood outside of a hospital room and accomplish all the things their parents wish for them in their lives and grow up to have children of their own some day.

I will never forget the experience of visiting young children in the cancer ward and seeing their beautiful smiles and seeing them accepting of their situation not looking for pity or questioning why. I saw courage, I saw strength, I saw hope and most of all I saw love. I experienced something truly special and although I felt like crying for these wonderful kids I was inspired by their tremendous spirit and was so deeply touched knowing that they were kids too. I learned something very valuable that day and I will never forget that feeling for as long as I live. It was a heartfelt, emotional bonding experience that helped me to grow and see life in a whole new light.

I teach my son to always find the good in all things and to try to never get down on himself. He too struggles in a different way as he is autistic and finds it very hard to "fit in" and make friends. I want him to learn that by giving a little present and by spending time with a sick child and seeing them smile that it can be the best thing he could ever do and it will help him to understand that not everything is perfect. Life is not always going to be a joy ride. Yes, we want to have fun and experience wonderful things but sometimes we will have to endure some difficult things too and when we see that others have greater struggles we will learn so much as we reach out to help in some small way and will gain so much as a result as we see these beautiful young children afflicted with pediatric cancer find joy in simple acts of kindness. I pray for all children and their families affected by cancer. May they be guided by God's love and compassion and may they have strength and courage to face each day with hope and optimism.

Edward D. Iannielli III

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