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The double pain of a mother with a child with cancer

Dong NaiAfter a year of hugging her eldest daughter with cancer and going back to Dong Nai – Saigon to receive chemotherapy, Ms. Oanh “forgot” her little daughter with increasing signs of autism.

In the late afternoon of March, in a small inn in Long Thanh district, 3-year-old Huyen and her daughter Luu Thi Ngoc Bich were sitting and playing, suddenly bursting into laughter. While instilling medicine for her eldest daughter Kim Oanh, 6 years old, with a sore throat, Bich ran across the room to hug the child, tears welling up in her eyes.

A year ago, she suspected that little Huyen showed signs of autism. Before taking her child to the doctor, she immediately received Kim Oanh’s cancer test results.

Since then, every 20 days, mother and daughter would go to Saigon and stay for a week for chemotherapy. Her husband, Mr. The Hung became the sole economic breadwinner of the family, so he could not accompany his wife to take the child to medical treatment or look after the young daughter. All the worker can do is work overtime 14 hours a day, from Monday to Sunday to receive a salary of 9 million dong. When she went to the hospital, Ms. Bich sent her children to the neighbors to look after them and then pay for them.

“I couldn’t afford to treat both of them at the same time, so I had to choose to treat Kim Oanh because the cancer couldn’t wait,” Ms. Bich said. The mother knows that Huyen’s autism symptoms are getting worse day by day.

Ms. Bich said that although Oanh was afraid of needles and afraid of going to the hospital, she was very resilient and rarely complained to her mother despite her swollen eyes.  Photo: Character provided.

Bich and her eldest daughter Kim Oanh in Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital, March 2022. Image: Character provided.

Kim Oanh was diagnosed with cancer when she was stung in her left eye by a bee, last March. Hearing her child complain of pain, Bich and her husband went to the store to buy self-treatment, then went to the hospital. But the more she took the medicine, the more swollen her eyes became, so she took her child to Children’s Hospital 2, then the Eye Hospital in Saigon for examination.

After doing a tumor biopsy, Oanh had cancer and needed to be hospitalized for chemotherapy. On the day the doctor asked to sign the commitment to treatment, Bich’s hands trembled, ran out into the hallway crying for a long time. When she calmed down, the new mother returned and signed. Capital of few words, but unable to accompany his wife and children at the hospital, Mr. The Hung could only call to encourage: “Mom and daughter try for a few days and then come back”. The father did not expect, the journey to regain the life of his daughter lasted all year.

When the first prescriptions were given to people, the side effects caused Oanh to have mouth ulcers and swollen lips. For a week, she could not eat or drink anything, so the doctor had to give water, from a fat girl, after a month she was left with only skin and bones.

Kim Oanh always feeds herself when she is healthy.  I'm afraid of needles, so every time I'm about to give medicine, I often kick and kick.  The doctor had to patiently coax Oanh to lie still and endure the pain to give the medicine.  Photo: Character provided.

Kim Oanh eats herself when she is healthy. Photo taken when I first started taking medicine, mid-2021. Photo: Character provided.

The Covid-19 epidemic from June to September last year was the most difficult for Bich’s family. Before the ban on going out to prevent illness, her mother and daughter could not return to Dong Nai. She was forced to rent a boarding house for 120,000 VND per day next to the hospital to facilitate drug delivery. But the inn had someone infected with Covid, so she decided to rent a room far from the hospital for more than 250,000 VND a day. Previously, mother and daughter only spent a few hundred thousand money on a bus to go back, but because of the translation, she had to rent a service car, costing 1.5 million a trip.

Baby Huyen often had to be away from her mother, she did not see her for a whole month, when her mother and second sister returned, she did not recognize her. “It took three days for her to look at my face,” she said.

Not only worrying about medicine, food, accommodation, car, and children’s money, but Huyen’s unconscious laughter weighed heavily on her mind, making Bich not have a full night’s sleep.

After the epidemic passed, Kim Oanh’s health was stable, and Bich decided to take Huyen to the doctor. Last month, two children led her to Saigon, the mother intended to give Oanh medicine and then went to Children’s Hospital 2 to examine Huyen. But when they were hospitalized, both parents and children were infected with Covid, so they had to return. During the days at home, Bich often wondered: “Why does God keep testing me?”. However, she never thought she would give up, but always reassured herself: “And you are still happy, and you are still hopeful”.

Over the past year, how much money the husband and wife have accumulated have been spent on Oanh. Thanks to the program’s help Sun of Hope, the child is supported 30 million dong. The following prescriptions, when the money ran out, Ms. Bich knocked on the door of the social work room of the institute to ask for help.

Doctor Chu Hoang Minh, Department of Pediatric Oncology, Oncology Hospital said: “After one year of treatment at the hospital, Kim Oanh’s health has progressed quite well. In the future, it will be evaluated to consider whether to receive radiation therapy. As a pediatric patient, it is likely that radiation therapy will be more expensive, because the tumor is located right in the eye socket, and must use high radiation techniques.”

Kim Oanh dreams of playing a princess, so she often asks her mother when her hair will grow. Bich only dared to say: “My hair is growing, but it’s a bit slow”. Although over the past year, Oanh has gotten used to going to Saigon every month, but every time she goes, Oanh asks her mother: “When will I stop going to the hospital?”

As always, she said this time she won’t go to the hospital but will go to the bookstore, to the supermarket… But in her heart, the mother knows she can’t keep her word.

Ha Vy

With the goal of igniting the faith of children with cancer, the Hope Foundation cooperates with the Mr. Sun program to launch the Sun of Hope program. One more of your cooperation is another ray of light to the future generations of the country. Please see program information here.

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