James D

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James D - Cancer in Kids @ RCH - CIKA

James D's story


Dear Brother,

You were a baby in intensive care and I was forbidden from visiting you because my friends all had chicken pox. This all changed when it was decided by the doctors that you weren't to live for much longer. The silence of the long dark corridors inside the hospital were like endless tunnels only to lead to another tunnel on our long journey to the secret ward. The walls were very bland and rectangular, there was nothing to be happy or excited about in this place and the smell of the hospital was settling into my sense of smell. The mix of the sterilised instruments with the smell of illness looming in every nook and cranny of the establishment became a familiar smell as the journey lingered on. The loud echoed sound of only our footsteps in the deserted passageway was an eerie lonesome sound in the huge hospital and as a young child, I was frightened by what my eyes were soon going to endure in the sight of my baby brother. Finally, I could see light at the end of the tunnel. Two huge doors came into sight in front of me and, while I was eager to see what was happening on the other side, I was reluctant to see what I was about to be faced with.

But the other side turned out to be nothing to be afraid of. The busy miniature city full of white coats bustling around, each with a smile to bring to its patients and visitors. I felt I needed to hold on to my dad's big hand so that I wouldn't get lost in the festival's crowd.

After weaving through the busy bodies of the ward we finally reached you, my poor sick sibling. My whole world fell down around me, all the bacground noise disappeared from my ears and the only focus was what my eyes were enduring before me. My helpless baby brother looked more like a bloated teddy bear. Not a cute and cuddly teddy bear that I loved to play with, but a lifeless doll unable to move without aid from its puppeteer. My young and innocent heart sank as I watched you holding on to your short life like a tiny ant avoiding being crushed from a higher force. I remember counting the number of machines you had keeping you alive, the group of artificial doctors all with a different duty. The natural force of the disease being overrun by robots, as in a scene from a futuristic movie, watching the robots take over the world as they took over your small body. My restriction from touching you was due to the thick glass I wasn't allowed to cross. I could feel nothing but sadness as the tears flowed down my red puffy face. I had only known you for a few months and for all I knew this was going to be my last image of my only sibling. After what seemed like only a few seconds, it was time to leave you. The festival crowd had died down and there was but a few white coated friendly faced nurses waiting to escort us away. Was this to be goodbye forever? Even though I was too young to fully understand what was happening to you, I still understood that this visit could possibly have been the last. We slowly wandered away from the window like we had already just attended the funeral and left the busy yet sorrowful ward. Hopefully, one day you can read this letter so that you can see not only the pain that you had to go through but your family's too.

Love from your big sister.


This is a letter written to James D by his big sister Tanya. James was diagnosed with Wilms' tumour when he was seventeen months old. The incident described in this letter relates to a time during early chemotherapy when James spent ten days in the intensive care unit.

Wilms' tumour is also known as nephroblastoma. It arises in the kidney.