Milan is three and a half years old. Currently, he is in our family support program. He was diagnosed with cancer a year ago: a tumor was found in his left adrenal gland. He is being raised by his mother, in poverty. They lived in a home for single mothers for a long time. They are in a difficult situation because as life would have it, they have nobody to rely on: no dad, no grandparents, in fact hardly any relatives at all.
How did you find out that your son had cancer?
“Milan had diarrhea and a fever continuously. I was scared, I knew something was seriously wrong. Of course I never thought of the worst. I took him to our GP, who sent us for tests. At the Tűzoltó Street Pediatric Clinic they found that the tumor was unfortunately a malignant neuroblastoma. That happened in December 2011. The doctors told me that they would have to perform an operation straight away, so we stayed at the hospital and my son was operated on the next day. They found one larger and several smaller tumors. Removal of the impacted tissues went on for several hours. They succeeded in taking out the large one, but the others, unfortunately, stayed in. Luckily, the operation didn’t damage the kidney, but chemotherapy was prescribed to deal with the many small tumors.”
How did Milan react to the chemotherapy treatments? He was only two and a half at the time.
“That period was quite difficult for both of us. Shortly after the operation, the treatments began. Actually, it was the 21st of December, just before Christmas. Luckily, we were allowed to go home on the 23rd, we didn’t have to celebrate at the hospital.
There were a number of side-effects: fever, diarrhea, lack of appetite, indisposition, and nausea, though he didn’t actually vomit. He lost his hair, his eyebrows and his eyelashes. He lost a lot of weight, and he didn’t want to eat anything, not even his favorite foods.
There were some nights when I was not allowed to stay in with him. He found those the most difficult. I always had to make something up, I said I would just step out to the toilet, or just get some fresh air, but he was already crying. He was scared that I would leave him alone there, but I had no choice, unfortunately. I went back to the hospital early in the morning to be by his bedside by the time he woke up, but he was often already up, waiting for me.
I cried a lot, especially in the beginning. I was looking at him with tears flowing down my face. I found it impossible to show strength, it was hurting my soul that he was sick, that he had cancer. When he noticed that I was crying, he came up to me, and simply told me to let him wipe my tears away. And then he hugged me.”
How long did the series of treatments take?
“From December 2011 until early April 2012. During that period we spent a lot of time in hospital, but we were allowed to go home when he was better. Of course, our home was the single mothers’ home, and I was pleased to have that; at least we had somewhere to lay our heads, but I wasn’t able to provide sterile conditions for Milan there. I worried a lot that he would catch something from the other kids, as I couldn’t keep him in that little, 8 m2 room all day. He wanted to be out with the others, as they had played together a lot before, but now I was trying to keep him away from everyone. He did catch the flu several times, but, thankfully, no harm came of it.”
How is Milan right now?
“Unfortunately, this is the most insidious type of cancer. You can never lay your worries to rest. I keep thinking about a relapse. It seems that indeed it has attacked Milan again. Recently, an ultrasound scan found two small tumors, but the doctor told us that this diagnosis is not completely reliable. At the end of January, an isotopic test will tell us for sure.”
We know how difficult it is for both Milan and his mother. We hope that you get well, little boy, and that you will never have to wipe the tears from your mum’s face again. And if you do, we hope they will be tears of joy when you are cured!