December 30, 2013 was the day our lives changed. That day, I took Mario to the doctor because he had had a low fever for about a week. I was flabbergasted when the doctor took me to a separate room and told me that Mario didn’t have an infection, as we had thought, and asking that I call someone to be with me while I received the true diagnosis. I replied that she should tell me, whatever it was, because nobody else could come. That is when I heard the words I least expected to hear: “Your son has leukaemia.” I still remember this moment today, and a shiver runs down my spine even now.
At once we were referred to La Paz Hospital, where we went by ambulance, to the 6th floor – Oncology, with the terrible diagnosis. I kept waiting for someone to come into the room to tell me they were mistaken, that Mario didn’t have leukaemia. However, this didn’t happen. Meanwhile, I saw my son changing daily, gaining weight, losing his hair, unable to walk because of all the medication he was receiving. He no longer had the life of a child, but of an adult.
These were very uncertain, very painful days, until we found out what kind of leukaemia he was suffering, whether any other organs were affected, and what treatment he should receive. I cried a lot of the time, until I realised that I wouldn’t achieve anything by crying, and decided to face the disease and enjoy my time with my son as much as I could, even if I had to remain trapped between the four wall of a hospital room. We have spent a full year practically living at the Hospital, starting and ending chemo. Mario had to have lumbar taps every fortnight. I spent many days watching him vomit and lose his appetite. It has been a year of “Don’t do this; don’t do that; you can’t go to the Kiddie Park; you can’t be kissed…” This is why everyone makes an effort to create a special world for these children at the hospital, starting with the medical team at La Paz.
I suppose I could tell more bad things, but I don’t want to. The balance is weighted towards the good, and verything I am learning because of this experience. This is what Mario is teaching me about life, about the many goodhearted and generous people I have found. I am thankful for this, and for so much more. While it is true that I would rather not have had to live through this experience, it is what life has given me, and I prefer to take the good. The best thing is that, for now, I still wake up every day with my three children.
It has been very difficult to explain to my children that they had nothing to worry about, that Mario was fighting against a very powerful beast, but that we would win the battle. Siblings are forced to live through the disease in silence, no one even looks at them, everyone’s attention is focused on the sick child. This is why I have to say that all three of my children are true champions.