The following is an excerpt from a book I am working on about my daughter's battle against Ewing's sarcoma, which is an aggressive bone cancer that most often affects the young. Read part one.
The next day we returned to the second floor where we had left Natalia, but there was no sign of her anywhere. Already in a fragile state of mind I was crestfallen at the change and immediately began to suspect the worst. The doctor then appeared and started at once to allay my fears.
"She’s alive and in stable condition," he said. "We transferred her a little earlier to the ICU." He gave me a little smile and at that moment it seemed to me that the sun had come out and color had been restored to the world.
When we arrived in the ICU Natalia was in tears and seemed very agitated. The nurses were relieved to see me. "She has been calling for you all morning." Natalia had come out of a three-day coma disoriented. She had revived around 6 am and for the next four hours had been repeating "I want to see my mother" over and over again. Natalia was in no way a needy child. I attributed her behavior to the fear she must be feeling. I stayed with for the whole day and late that night I told her that I would return in the morning, that I should sleep and so should she. Natalia insisted that I stay. "You can sleep the next time," she told me. I stayed with her all night.
The next day we were transferred to the Oncology ward. I speak in the second person plural now to highlight how I spoke throughout our time at the hospital. Natalia had even asked me once, why do you always say "we are getting our chemotherapy" when it’s just me that’s receiving the treatment? I had replied that I had in no way wanted to claim her position, rather to just share in her pain and feel part of her trial. While cancer is an individual diagnosis it hits at entire families in a collective sense when it is one of their own who is affected.
Returning to the events of this story: I wish you could all see the expression of the doctor who had told me that Natalia would probably never revive from her coma a few days before. We ran into him in the elevator when we were on our way out on the way home for the rest period between chemotherapy treatments.
"For the love of god where are you headed?" he demanded.
"Home," we said, for "a holiday in good health."