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Caregivers

Much has been written about the people who devote their lives to helping those fight cancer. For much of my life I was told about these fearless people who did what they could to make life more bearable for those undergoing treatment, and the families involved.

Until recently I took it for granted that these caregivers either had to have hearts of stone, and were immune to the tragedy they witnessed on a daily basis, or they had found a way to cope with it. Evidently I was wrong, very wrong.

The nurses, doctors, blood transfusion personal are all human. Amazingly so. When William was being treated at Cedars Sinai, they were all business, but since they dealt with children they had to cajole, bride, and do whatever they could to get the patient to take the medicines or accept the procedures. It was with admiration, fascination, and pity that I watched these people work.

My perception of them changed dramatically the day William died. Fully expecting them to just go about business as usual I saw weepy faces everywhere I went. I was due to give platelets the day after William passed. When I went into the office and told them they could open up my donations for anyone because William had passed they spontaneously broke into tears for a child they had never met. Children died all the time, how could they be emotionally attached and still do their jobs? I went back to the pediatric ward to thank some of the nurses for the care they had given William and found one particular nurse crying so hard her shoulder shuddered. I had to ask, how could she do this job if it caused her so much pain. She wiped away her tears, composed herself, pointed to one of the children walking with his IV unit, smiling and talking, and simply said, "how could she not".

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