17 August 2006 – 24 October 2014
a Reason to Smile
Theresa Botha Nieuwenhuis
From then on we went through to Pretoria about every 3 weeks so that Xuané could get a pint or more of blood. The tumour’s growth had got completely out of control; she looked as though she was nine months pregnant and I had to buy her clothes for an 11-12 year old so that she could be comfortable. It was difficult to see her like that every day because her stomach swelled more and more and she slept so much.
We held a birthday party for her 8th birthday in August, and she fell asleep during her own party. One of her friends came to tell me that Xuané was asleep and she thinks I should phone her mommy to come fetch her.
On the 13th October Xuané got feverish and had a really hard time breathing and was very uneasy. I phoned the oncologist and told her that I would bring Xuané in the next morning because something was not right.
We were admitted on the 14th and they gave her blood and did a whole host of tests. On the 16th the doctor called me aside into a small room and I knew this meant that there were problems. She told me to sit down and then said, “Therese, Xuané’s little body is tired of fighting.”
I shook my head and started crying as I realised that this was the end. I said “My child not going to go home again, hey.” and she just shook her head. I asked her to help and not to send me home again as I would not be able to endure it if Xuané died at home. She suggested that I phone the family and tell them to come and say goodbye.
Once I had dried my tears I returned to the room and gave Xuané a kiss on the forehead and told her mommy was just going to fetch granny in the parking area. She smiled and said that is good. When I got outside I sent a sms to those near and dear to say that it was time and they should come.
My mother and them stopped outside and as soon as I saw my sister I just burst into tears; I did not know what else to do because I was at the stage that I could no longer help my child, and no matter what I did, I could not save her.
I sent a sms to my one friend who had lost her beautiful child a month earlier; I cried on her shoulder and asked her “Why, why my child?” She could not answer me.
On the evening of the 17th October I opened my Bible for the first time in 5 years. I read a piece and got down on my knees; I folded my hands and made a conscious decision, crying all the while, to rather ask God to come and fetch her instead of asking him to heal her. I could not sit by and watch my child struggle to breathe any more; I could not watch her suffer and get sicker any more – I asked Him to please relieve her of all the pain and suffering.
And so the weekend passed and Xuané started looking better; she spoke to and laughed with everyone and joked with her aunts and laughed at the sisters in the ward. My mother slept with her on the Saturday night and the two of them sat and spoke nonsense until eleven o’ clock while my husband and I got a bit of rest.
My husband and I returned to the hospital on the Sunday and she was waiting for us in the waiting-room with a big smile. She was terribly swollen but I thought “Oh it is just the fluids that they are giving her.”
Everyone went home on the Sunday and the Tuesday she got even more swollen. I would go home on Wednesday 22nd and my husband would stay with her until the weekend and then we would change places.
Her drip went into the tissue for the second time and I decided to take her home because I knew she was not going to make it. The next morning when I got up she was struggling to breathe and spent most of the day sleeping. My mother came to visit to see how she was doing, and when she arrived I told her that Xuané was not looking good. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law also popped in and we all sat in the lounge and spoke to Xuané, after which they all left and she said she wanted to go back to her room.
Little Fighters Cancer Trust would like to extend a huge thank you to the Niewenhuis family for allowing us to share Xuané’s story and photos, and hope that it will bring Awareness regarding Childhood Cancer to the public in general so that they can get a bit of an idea what battling Childhood Cancer is like – why the Little Fighters Cancer Trust does what it does, why creating Awareness around Childhood Cancer is so important, and enlightenment to other parents.
We will continue with Part 15 of Xuané… a Reason to Smile tomorrow…