Since before he was born, we’d done everything we could to give our son a good life. Dad started socking away college savings in a 529 plan before he was even born and I stayed up late researching top preschools. By the time he was 4, I dutifully drove him to piano and swim lessons. When he was 6, I was his soccer coach. That was the age he was diagnosed with leukemia. Suddenly, I was back to researching, sometimes until 4 a.m.
Then he was 8 years old, and to our horror, he was dying. A rare and aggressive form of leukemia had hijacked my son’s bone marrow and had stopped responding to treatment. Chemo and radiation had both failed. Immunotherapy, our last chance, had also failed. His body no longer produced healthy blood. Without white blood cells, he had no immune system. Without red blood cells, adequate oxygen could not reach vital organs. Without platelets, his body could not heal itself; he bruised to the touch, even from something as soft as a feather.
The new topic was top doctors and treatments. We were fortunate to live within a 20-minute drive of one of the best pediatric cancer care centers in the country. So on a Monday afternoon, nearly two years into his treatment, when one of his top doctors turned to me and said that despite the best available therapies and a leading clinical trial, there was nothing more they could do, we were devastated. We had all failed our mission: to give him a good life.
Click here to read the full article in the Huffington Post by Jenny Harrington, an author, researcher and mother living on an island in Seattle.
Image: The author, her husband and their son, Ewan.