Herewith the latest article as penned by Ethan’s Mom, Gila Jacobs, on her feelings as an Onco Mom dealing with the daily trials and tribulations of cancer. As originally explained, this article is posted as is to maintain integrity and passion.
15 March 2015
15 March 2013 was the day we walked into Vincent Pallotti Hospital with a BIG DAY ahead of us. Suitcase and luggage in tow. We knew we would “move in” for at least a few days… if all went well…
We were admitting our 18 month old son to have major surgery on his right thigh. He was going to have the cancerous lump removed from his muscle tissue… I still get goosebumps thinking about it now. Where did all that courage come from back then? We were doing it as if it was the most normal thing – as if people did it all the time. I must say I almost feel sick trying to imagine doing it now…
I remember filling out many forms telling me the risks associated with anesthesia as well as risks associated with epidurals… my 18 month old was going to have an epidural like I had 18 months ago when he was born… really? Complete with catheter and morphine… I signed that paper… giving my permission didn’t I? A long, frighteningly long needle was going to be put in his back mere inches from his spine to numb his lower body… GOSH!!!
How could allow that? I did though. I even walked with him into the theatre prep room with the green overalls on… I watched his trusting eyes roll back in his head as the anesthesia kicked in. I left him with strangers, entrusted them to bring him back to me. I laid his little body on that narrow operating table underneath huge lights and surrounded by big machines and walked out feeling less of a mother. Less of a person.
Feeling sick to my stomach and to my soul. I said my prayer to God and took a deep breath, fighting the tears stuck in my throat. Trying to be strong because I had 3 hours to wait to know whether the surgery was successful. I was numb. So numb I couldn’t breathe, or cry or even speak.
The doctors told us to go get something to eat, so we could refuel to be strong for him. There was nothing we could do for him just waiting in the waiting room anyway. So we did. We left for lunch… but couldn’t stay away longer than the time it took us to gobble down some food. I don’t think I even tasted what I ate. I can’t even remember now what it was… and as soon as we could be, we were back in the waiting room. Just staring at the double doors leading into theatre. The silence making our fast beating hearts echo in our ears.
Deep breaths… silent moments. Never have I wanted time to move as fast as I wished it to move that day. My baby was being cut into. Dissected. Stitched up like a rag doll whose fabric had torn… I would have done anything – given anything – to trade places with him!
The very kind anesthetist sent us a sms from inside the operating room to let us know that all was going well. Ethan was fine and surgery was going well. She also let us know it would be another hour or so for them to stitch him back together and prep him for recovery. It was the longest hour of my life!
I remember close to the end of that hour I went to stand just outside the double doors peering through the small windows trying to hear or see something. I knew that when I heard him cry it would mean he was out of surgery and back to life from his anesthesia sleep. I just wanted to hear him cry.
The surgeon came out first; I was searching his face for a clue as to how it went. He looked tired, but gave a smile. I breathed again. He told us it went very well and that they got it all out. They were very happy with the surgery. Ethan was fine and he would be brought out shortly but needed to go straight to High Care. He would be closely monitored for the next few days. I was relieved but just wanted to hold my baby.
Finally when he was wheeled out in the crib I swear there was so much more pipes, lines, machines, beeping numbers and equipment than there was person laying in it. I didn’t know what to do, he was just lying there so still… his lips were dry around the edges because of the anesthetic and the breathing pipe that was plastered over his mouth. Sticky bits of plaster still stuck to his cheek and eyelids. He smelled of chemicals. He looked like a ghost. He looked different. Almost ashy, not alive. The beeping machines telling us he definitely was alive and at least breathing on his own.
We walked behind the crib as he was wheeled back to the ward. Quiet. No-one saying anything. We were settled in the High Care ward and his vitals were checked. I was finally able to lift the blanket and take a look at what was left after cancer had tried to have its way with my baby boy. He won the fight against cancer but was not left unscathed.
He had nothing on but his nappy loosely covering his genitals. There was a very long cut made from the top of his right hip to the start of his kneecap, as if his whole thigh was cut through like a piece of beef fillet. I was really NOT expecting that… there was also a small plastic bottle half filled with blood lying next to his leg attached to his wound with a short pipe which was draining the wound. Something new I’ve never seen before. He also had a catheter inserted.
Monitors connected to 3 lines stuck on his chest. Another monitor connected to his big toe. A drip in his left foot with a few bags hanging from the drip pole next to his bed. Morphine was the one label, Glucose the other and something else I cannot pronounce or even remember. The morphine drip was however inserted in his back. In that moment I was filled with an emotion comprising of relief, shock, nausea, anger, sadness and pain.
The anesthetist came to check on Ethan and told us that it looks much worse than it actually is. He was actually doing very well and that he would be sleeping more due to all the pain medications. He was a strong little fighter.
A few hours later our groggy little boy opened his eyes and smiled at me. That was all I needed. He was thirsty and drank his bottle eagerly. He soon realized he couldn’t move due to the epidural line still in his back but he made attempts to sit up and move around. He was responsive. He was back. He was CANCER FREE.
He still is CANCER FREE today. Two long years later.
I salute you my brave boy. I thank God for giving you the strength to endure and overcome. I thank you for fighting to stay with us.
My name is Gila Jacobs, my son Ethan is recovering from cancer. My husband and I are recovering from shock, stress, financial burdens due to medical bills and plain and simple exhaustion. This is our story.
Little Fighters Cancer Trust celebrates this wonderful milestone together with the Jacobs family. Ethan, you are a Wonderful, Brave Little Fighter and we wish you everything of the best that the future can offer. May all your dreams come true!