Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Courage to Fight

I have meet a lot of incredible kids over the past two years. Their strength and their courage is incredible. They fight the cancer in their body on every possible level. Not one of them, at any time, has ever quit.

And when in comes to courage, there is a truth that I have learned from these amazing kids. Sometimes fighting means to pursue every possible medical option. But there are also times when it takes as much courage to stop the endless medical struggles.

With Tyler, we never stopped. We had problems and severe setbacks, but we also always had our plan "B", "C", and "D". Tyler went into remission before we exhausted every option. But that is not true for everyone. Far too many parents exhaust every reasonable option, and are faced with the most horrific decision of their lives. Some will continued against seemingly impossible odds. Others decide to back off, spending their final days together in light of medical realities. So how do you make those decisions?

The best advice I received was from Dr. Rything at MD Anderson, who said, "Have no regrets". Each parent must research the data, search their hearts, and love their child. And then, with the greatest levels of love and courage, they make the decision. Once made, none of us outside the family has the right to judge that decision. Our sole responsibility is to love and support them.

I have been very critical of doctors that pressure families to give up before they are ready. I encounter some of them, and believe they should be removed from the medical profession. Doctors must provide complete and honest information. Parents must remain fully informed, leaving no stone unturned. But learning everything does not necessarily mean pursuing everything. And as much contempt as I have for certain doctors, I must also respect families with the courage to stop. It is a family decision, involving the mind and the heart, both the medical facts and the human spirit. The decision requires a level of courage and love that is beyond anything the rest of us have experienced.

Sinjin put together the following video. Each of these young men and women lot their lives to cancer. Some fought medical battles to the end, with their parents at every step of the way. Others reached a point of saying "this is enough", again with their parents by their side. But every one of them fought with courage. Not one ever gave up. Not even for a moment. They are all heroes.

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