JBF talks to Obed Simon, the father of one of our patients, about how his life changed after his son was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins T-cell Lymphoma.
Being a father means the world to me. It’s a very special feeling to know that I have three beautiful children and the responsibility of taking care of them is my motivation to work hard every day.
I have grown to love each of my children on a balanced level because I don’t want them to feel any negativity about themselves. I have always worked on loving each of them equally so that each child will feel just as important to me as the others.
Before Jameel was born I had a mental picture of him in his mother’s womb and when he was actually born, it was as if my child was here all along. It was as though I saw the perfect child, the same child that I had an image of in my thoughts.
Before he was three months old, he would cry all the time. I remember, time after time, telling my wife that I want to take a little stress off her because she had to nurse him. She was constantly up with him trying to comfort him. I used to take him in my arms and walk around with him. He would become quiet and then fall asleep. He liked that a lot.
As he grew out of that fussy stage, one of the most adorable things that I could see was his smile. It was something that could light up your world. When he got his first tooth we called him “the one tooth lion.” [chuckles]
He was so active, up and down the house constantly. He didn’t waste time creeping, perhaps for a week, but because he was so eager and strong, he tried walking; taking steps, falling down, getting up, and walking again. He was so brave.
When he started preschool at around the age of three, we noticed that he got a cold regularly sometimes with fever and shortness of breath. Whenever we found it was unbearable, we took him to the hospital. After repeated tests on different occasions, including X-rays, he was diagnosed with asthma. We felt that was something a child can either grow out of, or live with for the rest of his life. On one of these frustrating trips to the emergency room, I had to “make some noise” to get the attention I felt we really needed for Jameel. It worked.
I remember when our whole life story changed. It was a Monday and I was at work. After 6pm, my wife called to say that Jameel was having difficulty breathing. I dropped everything.
As I got into my car, I was concerned because my battery was giving trouble, thankfully the car started right away with no issues. That is why I will always say that Allah is so great. I got home in no time and we rushed him to the hospital. As I drove up the ramp to the emergency entrance, he was not breathing. I grabbed him, ran in and was met by a female doctor who jumped into action. She knew what she was doing and brought our son back to us, for that, I will be forever grateful. We could have lost him that day and in that moment everything in my life was turned upside down. As a parent, I couldn’t help but think the worst.
After some time at the hospital, a CT scan was requested and they confirmed that he had a mass on his chest. A biopsy was done and Jameel was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins T-cell Lymphoma. He was admitted to the JBF ward to begin chemotherapy. The next few years were quite challenging. What an ordeal!
Jameel is almost seven now and is doing quite well. He is in remission and he is going to school. I must give credit to Doctor Bodkyn, Doctor Lalchandani, Doctor West and I even remember Doctor Pauline and some of the junior doctors. I’m grateful to the amazing team in ICU as well as the nurses and to everyone who helped us.
This whole experience has taught me that it’s crucial for us to observe everything about our children because they can’t always explain exactly how they feel. If you’re observant with your child, you will notice the changes - as simple as how they breathe. We paid attention to Jameel and that has brought us to the fortunate position of having him with us today.
I want to encourage fathers to play a more important role in the lives of their children. I could not do this without my wife and vice versa. Helping a child cope with cancer or any illness should not be a burden for one parent only.
I ask fathers to step up to their responsibility for the sake of their children and their families.