Sophia Children's Hospital
Tuesday 27 February we visited the Queen Sophia Children’s Hospital in Rotterdam. It was a moving and impressive day. We talked to Hadassa and to Agnes. Hadassa, a 13 year old girl, told us how her life as a child changed with one fell blow. The doctors thought she had glandular fever because she was tired a lot. They decided to take a blood sample and found that Hadassa didn’t have glandular fever but acute lymphoblastic leukemia, i.e. blood cancer. Hadassa is a beautiful young lass, with a wonderful smile. But reality is cruel: cancer can touch anyone. Hadassa tells us about her chain of beads. Every time she’s had a procedure such as a bone marrow aspiration, a chemo treatment or a lumbar puncture she is allowed to add a bead. Every bead has some significance. After 6 months of illness the chain is almost 3m long … Every day Hadassa girds herself for the battle for survival. She perseveres bravely and she is resolutely determined to survive. She promises that she’ll follow our progress on the trip and waves goodbye to us, beaming proudly with a beautiful smile on her face.
Next we visit Agnes. Agnes is 15 years old and he’s a tough guy. A bit unsure of himself and beforehand he’d been a little apprehensive that he would stutter when we came to interview him. That fear turned out to be unnecessary because when he’d been put at his ease he wouldn’t stop talking. Agnes tells us about the time before he became ill. He was in a Footlocker shop to buy a pair of shoes and worried about which ones to choose. Three weeks later he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Now he is fighting for his life and is amazed to think that such a short while ago he was all fired up about choosing a pair of shoes. Agnes is a smart guy and a sporty type. He swims a lot and was going to participate in the national championships. That won’t be happening now, but Agnes is absolutely determined that he’ll win an Olympic gold someday! We promise to race him swimming when he is better and we challenge him to a lap on the bike. He doesn’t hesitate for a moment. “You’re on”, he says!
Two children, both with cancer. Both determined to survive, such a positive attitude, so grown-up, but at the same time so child-like. Disbelief. Why must it hit them? Persevere and keep believing in recovery. Combine strength and encouragement in order to keep going towards a normal life in good health. Those 5500 kilometers just became a little easier to deal with.