We’ve been looking after a Pupil in Sick Bay, who has got Cancer. I cannot name the Pupil or what sort of Cancer he has had, but he has been receiving Chemo on Sick Bay for the last few months and has been really poorly.
We got the news on Monday that the cancer has spread and that this Young Person may only live until February next year. I went with this young person to see the Pediatric Oncologist. I will admit I did get upset myself and so did he. It is a hard subject to get your head around and can be very distressing.
Thoughts then turned to his Palliative Care and his options. He made it quite clear to me and the doctor, that he wanted to spend his final days at school, with his friends around him. I thought this was a very brave statement to make for a 13 year old. Of course, this is not a problem and he will be cared for in Sick Bay, the same as any other pupil would. (Remember, lots of our kids live on site 24 \ 7 all year round)
I’d already spoken to his Mum while I left him in the play room for a few minutes. I needed a cigarette and I think, with the bad news, you cannot blame me. I arranged for his mum to come and see me at school and we could then talk things through and make a proper plan for his care.
When we got back to school and I had taken him back to Sick Bay, I popped down to the hall and spoke to Karen and explained what was going on. She let me break the news to the school and I said that support will be given to pupils, if they need to talk about this delicate subject and that as a school, we need to be behind this young person and be there for him. I have not openly spoken in Assembly before and I think the kids and staff were shocked to hear the news. I encouraged the kids to visit him in Sick bay, during break, lunch and after school and to help keep his spirits up.
After Assembly, I met with his mum on Sick Bay, who had arrived before I had come back. I said that in the circumstances, I will allow open visiting, so she can come and see her son when she wants to and for as long as needed. If there’s a problem with this, she was told to get someone to bleep me. Dr Darak also has said that she will do anything she can to help and can be bleeped too, if needed.
The pupil in question then asked me to do something I didn’t think he would do. He’s been stuck in Sick Bay for a few months now and hasn’t really left the unit, apart from Hospital Appointments. He’s been cared for by our Nurses and Health Care Assistants, under the care of our in house GPs.
He had asked to go outside for break time with the other kids, which was not a problem, as we put him in a wheelchair and I took him outside. I was shocked when I wheeled him out, with his drip on the back of his chair, wrapped up in blankets. The kids and staff on the playground stopped what they were doing and actually applauded the lad. I thought this was so special, as it showed the school was behind him and actually made me feel emotional myself.
He has received lots of visitors, from staff and pupils. However, we are mindful that his mum will want to spend time with him too, so we did ask visitors to come back, if he is with his mum. However, she said it is important that he has his friends around him and does not mind him having friends come to see him.
Karen, myself and Sam visit as much as we can. I spare a couple of hours during the work day and after work to see him. I have bought him in the spare Xbox from home and a TV, so he can play on that when he gets board. I also arranged for Rosemary (who is one of our Counselors) to go up and see him, to provide him and his mum emotional support. I talk with him, reassure him and hold his hand. It’s hard for me to be upset, as we are suppose to be professional, but I cannot hold it back. I’ll admit I’ve cried with him and I’ve cried walking out of Sick Bay. I am getting support myself from the school counselling service and have been told it’s OK to cry and to be upset. I hate the kids to see me cry and I have only shown emotions to the kids a few times.
The months ahead will be tough, but with the school behind him, he knows that he is not alone and that he’s getting the best care possible. This has hit the staff and the kids hard and is the 1st time we have ever had this situation.
I am going back up to see him in a minute, but I know you, the bloggers who follow Sam and I on this blog, also send your best wishes and lots of love to a family, who have been knocked back by terrible terrible news, which sadly won’t have a happy ending. 😦