Miles’s parents gained hope and strength from their young childQCS Team
When you meet Miles, you first notice the bright energy that this five-year-old boy brings into the room. He is a smart boy with a charming smile. Miles sometimes speaks softly, which his father refers to as “volume 2.” Isaac, Miles’ father, always encourages him to raise his voice to a “volume 5” when talking to new people. Being a confident boy, Miles quickly adjusts to new situations. Since Miles was only two years old when he was diagnosed, he has only limited memories of his experience, and his father and mother were able to provide his whole story.
In November 2016, Miles came from Kenya with his mother to visit his father- Isaac – who Working in Doha’s airport as a supervisor, who was two years old – Miles developed a fever one week after they arrived. He was prescribed an antibiotic course by a private doctor. To their surprise, ten days passed, and Miles’ fever had not yet subsided. After visiting their health center, the doctors started testing Miles with so many test tubes to the point that Isaac was fearful that Miles’ blood was drying up. The hospital staff assured him that he was receiving fluid replacement but had not told him that they suspected something. At around 10 PM, a doctor informed Isaac that they were highly suspicious that Miles had leukemia, and the doctors explained to him in simple words about this disease
Isaac was taken aback and remembered his first words to the doctors were, “it can’t be.” He thought that it could not be true because none of his family members ever had that illness. The doctor recommended they start Miles the next day on chemotherapy without waiting. Isaac doubted the results’ validity, so he decided to return with Miles to Kenya for retesting. He booked a flight for the following day and left the hospital with his son. The doctor called Isaac at home and asked him to reconsider the decision to fly back and suggested he check the validity of the test in another local hospital. The doctor reasoned that earlier treatment would be better for his prognosis. Miles continued to have a high fever along with being restless throughout that night.
Isaac finally decided to cancel the travel plans and look for a local hospital for retesting. The hospitals were closed as it was Friday morning. Therefore, Isaac took Miles to the Al Sadd Pediatric Emergency Center. Miles’ original diagnosis of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia was confirmed in the emergency department. Doctors explained the course of treatment for chemotherapy extensively, including the expected hospital stays and possible side effects.
Journey to cure
Miles was admitted to Hamad General Hospital on the 31st of December, 2016. Miles’ mother was still in shock at the time and was crying so much. She would wonder why this was happening to them, and Isaac told her that other people were also going through similar challenges.
Isaac felt obliged not to cry in front of his wife because that would mean they were desperate, and he wanted to give her hope. Isaac describes that time as one of the most demanding stages of the journey for him, as he felt responsible not to let his emotions take over him to support his wife and not let Miles think that anything was wrong. Isaac smiled as he said, “and that is how we spent New Year’s Eve in the hospital.”
The father’s work shifts were 12 hours. When Isaac’s shifts ended at 5 PM, he would go home to change. After that, he would return to the hospital to stay with his son until about 1 AM. He would then return home, take a shower, and go back to work. Miles’ mother would stay with her son all the time during the hospital stay. Because one side effect Miles had was a loss of appetite, Isaac made sure always to prepare food that Miles liked. Things started to change positively for the family in July 2018. They were informed that this was their last chemo dose. After that, they had to come regularly for six months for a follow-up to ensure that Miles’ health was optimum.
A difficult time
A problematic point was when Miles’ closest friend, and his neighbor in the hospital, started to develop a fever. By that time, the parents of both children had also become close friends. Whenever Miles developed a fever, the other child’s parents would assure Miles that Miles would improve, and he would. And naturally, Miles’ parents also supported the other child’s parents and provided them with hope. However, this time the fever lasted longer than usual without decreasing.
One day, Mile’s father came to the hospital to find the child’s bed empty. When he asked, they found out that he had passed away. Isaac was speechless in front of the other child’s father, not knowing how to console him. He also imagined how he would have felt if this had happened to Miles.
The happiest moment in Mile’s cancer journey occurred after a spinal tap that Miles was undergoing. Isaac and his wife were very emotional since they could not join him in the procedure room. Miles was fatigued before he left his parents for the procedure. They were told that Miles might take up to 30 minutes after the spinal tap to wake up. They were also worried that he might develop complications. To their surprise, when Miles was brought from the procedure room back to his parents, he was more energetic than before going there. Isaac remembers his son calling them loudly while smiling, “Hey Mom, Dad, come here!” This was the happiest moment for Isaac, where he gained strength and hope from his minor child.
Role of Qatar Cancer Society
One doctor suggested that a social worker come and talk to Isaac regarding the bills. An educator from the Qatar Cancer Society visited him and told him not to worry about his finances if Miles’ treatment exceeded his means. The Society ended up subsidizing Miles’ chemotherapy. Members of the Cancer Society visited Miles regularly and brought toys to him. They also made sure to comfort Isaac and his wife regarding their son’s treatments
Miles says that the injections were painful, but he believes that he only stayed at the hospital for “just two minutes.” He was able to do what he wanted to do at the hospital, and he especially liked the fact that he could watch as much TV as he tried to.
Speaking to the other kids who were going through what he went through, Miles insists that, “I don’t want them to have a hard day. I don’t want them to have a bad day. I don’t want them to cry.”
He said those words as a significant and hopeful smile appeared on his face: “You will all get better!”
Final messages from Isaac:
Isaac thanks QCS for being there with his family at a time when some of the few friends they had have disappeared, “and these guys (QCS) came and they were friends.”
According to him, help came from the people whom he did not expect to get help from. At the same time, it did not come from those whom we expected it to come from. Friends came once or twice at the maximum and then stopped showing up. The families were going through similar journeys to his family, who provided them with constant support.
Isaac learned the value of family during this journey. He knew that no matter what, your family would always be there for you.
Isaac encourages other parents going through similar situations to what his family experienced to have hope and be strong. He said his family had been there for Miles, him, and his wife, and they all got through it; therefore, he wants other parents to know that they will get through it.