Nothing can prepare you, when you are sent to war. Sure you have seen it all on TV and the movies, you have felt the sadness and imagined the horror, but until you have actually been there, you will never really know what it is really like.
It has been over three years now since we first heard word of the enemy, and the flash backs are still so vivid, they keep me awake at night. There was no real warning, nothing to say it was moving in, making its move into our territory. But once we figured out something was up and with the use of radiation, the enemy was found, and it was big and aggressive!
Now I was only there for support, my soldier relied on me for everything, transport, liaison, pick-ups, moral support, meals, medical needs, personal care, entertainment and even a shoulder to cry on or someone to take it out on. My soldier was the real hero, but every soldier needs a great support crew, and that is who I was. I was there for every battle, every step of the way.
Our first line of attack was with chemical warfare! Before this could be started a number of smaller missions were completed to determine the size and strength of the enemy, this was done with radiation, nuclear equipment and even sending in a group of the best to remove some to the enemy for interrogation. After this chemical warfare began, three types of chemicals were chosen, proven to be the best line of attack. My soldier, went in as most do, unaware of the dangers of the use of such chemicals. As most soldiers on their first mission, blinded by the fan fare, the attention and the wonder of something new and different. But soon the reality set in. The sickness from the poisonous chemicals and the other reactions soon began to be the norm. You can always tell a soldier by the way they wear their hair, most become bald, the vomiting begins and the nose bleeds.
Our first round of chemical warfare lasted just over 4 months, with three battles every five weeks and leave in between. Our stays in camp lasted from 5 days to two/three weeks, being in camp was good for me to meet other support crews, to build friendships and to find others who understood. Laughs in the halls ways and mess rooms were mixed with tears of what the battles where taking away from our soldiers, of cries of the soldiers or even harder to see the blank stares. But like all times of hardship the camps did their best to boost moral, with visits from celebrities and loads of entertainment. But the sounds of the other soldiers cries or sounds of sickness will never leave me.
It seemed the chemical warfare was working, so next we sent in a team of highly recommended professionals to remove all of the remaining enemy. This mission was dangerous and would take hours, my solider was taken away, I was not needed for this stage of the battle, I was to prepare myself for the weeks ahead. After such a radical manoeuvre, my soldier would need the highest level of care and attention, the enemy had destroyed a major structure, which now need to be replaced. 7 hours went by, my heart going like crazy the whole time, until they told me it was a success!
Even though we were told the enemy had been removed, we had to make sure it was completely destroyed, more chemical warfare was needed after such a intense battle. It broke my heart, only a couple of weeks for my soldier to recover and the fighting began again. His body was frail and he was not coping, he began refusing to eat, to even swallow, the chemicals were attacking the enemy but at a cost to my soldier, we knew this needed to be done. The enemy was such an aggressive attacker, we had studied it as much as possible, and feared it immensely.
Battle after battle continued, infection was rampant, our leave time was only a day or two now before we were sent back to camp not to go into battle but to fight the bacteria that was attacking his body, the side effects of the chemical warfare was now worse than ever. Blood and Platelet transfusions were the norm, vomiting and diarrhoea was never ending. We were trying to be our strongest, trying everyday to lift our soldiers spirits, to be brave, but our hearts were breaking. There were other problems along the way, equipment malfunctions, other personnel mistakes, cancellations etc. but we just kept going.
Finally after ten months of the worse warfare there can be, we were told it was over…our soldier was sent home to recover. He was wheelchair bound, he had lost all movement in his left leg, he no longer ate or even swallowed, he had addictions and was dependent on us for everything, his little spark was still there, but it had changed…..
Sadly the enemy came back…big, bad and more aggressive, our soldier had only been home a couple of weeks when signs began to show. We met with the best to discuss our soldiers possibilities, to fight again, to go back in to the battle field but first they would have to remove a quarter of his body…or to stop! Take our brave hero home and to love him until the enemy took him from us…we did what was the kindest choice, we knew what we were up against, there was to be no more fighting.
Samuel, our middle child passed away on the 5th of March 2013, he was four days from his ninth birthday. Osteosarcoma took our cheeky boy. His tumour was in his left femur, after chemo they replaced his femur and knee with titanium. After four more months of chemo, Samuel went home, but he began to get pains in the upper thigh. A PET scan showed that the tumour had started to grow again and had spread to his lungs.
We miss our little guy everyday, there is not a day, hour or minute that he does not cross our minds, either with times of love and happiness or sadness and pain. Childhood cancer is cruel, mostly for our little soldiers but also for those left behind x