Sunday, 21 April 2013

You Know It When You See It

Today, I went to visit a nephew of mine in hospital who, along with his Easter eggs this year, was handed a diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. 

This is not a post about cancer, though, and it’s not really about my nephew as such either.  He was just the reason I happened to be in a certain place at a certain time, in position to witness something very delightful.

As we were leaving my nephew's ward, my mother decided to visit the bathroom, so in she went while I waited outside in the corridor. 

Now, the teenage cancer unit my nephew is on is part of a larger children’s oncology department catering for kids of all ages from tiny tots up to eighteen-year-olds and, as it's a regional unit, is pretty busy even on a Sunday.  

So, anyhow, there I am waiting for mother dear, idly indulging it a spot of people-watching, when I suddenly become aware of some kind of ruckus coming down the corridor towards me. 

Curious, I turn to see what’s occurring and am greeted by the sight of this little bald-headed kid of no more than four or five at a guess, excitedly tearing down the corridor, with mother and drip stand in happy (but ever-so-slightly anxious) pursuit.  Along with these, he is hauling along a set of three cardboard boxes of various sizes all connected together by string, so as to form a little train of sorts.  Each box contains a few random toys, and the little chap is knocking on and pushing open various doors along the way, singing out at the top of his voice “Special delivery!”

As he passes by them, each and every one of the various staff members, patients and visitors dotted about (including yours truly), breaks into a smile or a chuckle.

So far as this little boy is concerned, today he does not have cancer.  Today, he is not in hospital.   Today, he does not face a future filled with chemo and blood tests. 

Today, he is a postman and he’s having the time of his life.

Even the very best of hospitals can be dark, sad places at times but, now and then, a ray of sunshine comes bursting through, radiant and unexpected.

Now, I don’t suppose I shall ever cross paths with that little fellow again.  I don’t know his name, I don’t know his background.  I don't know what will become of him. 

But I do know unalloyed joy when I see it, and how it shines!


  1. Thank you for sharing this! How glorious to see a whole cancer ward surprised by the bright light of unalloyed joy! Thoughts and prayers winging to your nephew and family. Leukemia has visited my family, too. My sister has the more rare CML, which will eventually become acute.

  2. Thanks for the thoughts and prayers, CL, much appreciated. My nephew is quite lucky: the hospital is a centre of excellence for cancer care and the unit he's on was specially built by the Teenage Cancer Trust and it's like a teenagers' hotel, with chillout areas, games consoles, musical instruments, pool table, the works. It's also a small unit of just 6 beds, so the atmosphere is quite intimate and friendly. My very best wishes to your sister.

  3. What a great story! I'm glad your nephew is in such a nice place.

  4. Nothing more beautiful and you have described the moment so well that I feel like I have seen and been touched by it too. I hope your nephew recovers and gets to live a long, full life.... full of joy.

  5. i think there's always hope somewhere - well told

  6. An image to hoard in your heart and his. Shine-on little man.


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