Aleha’s photo and the story are from the Rachel House organisation. Please find the original article here Last Birthday – Precious Memories For Good – RACHEL HOUSE (rachel-house.org)
With the grains of time seemingly rushing from the hourglass of Aleha’s life, it was all the more important for us to make every moment that existed from the rest of Alesha’s time, special. Therefore approaching his birthday month, we knew we had to keep that precious moment, celebrating the time he still had.
It was a special day already set to celebrate Alesha’s birthday. Although the girl had doubts for a while, but a moment later she also agreed to celebrate her birthday one month earlier. Because, why not?
When the Dadan nurse from Rachel House arrived at Alesha’s house that morning, Dadan felt very relieved to see the expanding smile painted on Alesha’s face. In the morning of that day, it was as if the sun was shining its beautiful light into Alesha’s room.
The 13-year-old girl, who had gone through 2 grueling years in her struggle against Osteosarcoma, seemed to be given a few days to rest from the severe pain and various complexities that had chastened her.
But first, as usual Dadan must first do a physical examination, check the cancer mass that has left a gaping wound on Alesha’s shoulder, and check Alesha’s catheter to make sure it is clean and functioning properly.
That day, during the examination, Alesha showed no signs of pain or discomfort. His eyes kept staring out, impatiently looking forward to his birthday party starting.
“It’s done yet?” Alesha asked a second time.
Dadan smiled. He was very happy and relieved to see Alesha so cheerful and full of spirits, even though the cancer was eating away at her body.
“A little bit more, yes, we’re done,” Dadan said reassuringly.
The girl nodded, as her eyes looked back towards the hallway outside her room.
Actually, Alesha’s birthday is still a month away. So when nurse Dadan first suggested that the birthday celebration be brought forward, Alesha felt unconvinced.
“Is it okay?” whispered Alesha asking her mother.
In the midst of a lot of uncertainty, and as Alesha’s condition continues to decline, we want to make sure Alesha and family can still enjoy her birthday celebration together, which will probably be her last birthday.
Once Alesha and the mother agreed with Dadan’s suggestion, Rachel House’s team and our volunteers worked hard to prepare for the happy day with various things that Alesha liked and wanted.
Our extraordinarily generous volunteer, Tiar Vafilin, who over the years has helped Rachel House put a happy smile on our patients’ faces by making a variety of birthday cakes of their dreams, in no time immediately made a special birthday cake for Alesha.
“Okay, we’re done!” Dadan’s words instantly made Alesha’s smile expand.
As if getting a joke, Alesha’s family walked into her room singing a happy birthday song. Her mother walked in holding a birthday cake with colorful candles burning cheerfully.
Although she couldn’t get out of bed, joy flashed clearly on Alesha’s face. She looked in amazement, the cakes and various gifts in Dadan’s hand.
“This is Nakano Miku, my favorite anime character!” said Alesha excitedly when she saw her birthday cake. Very well aware that her birthday cake request was met.
Dadan could see the look of sadness in Alesha’s parents’ eyes, even as they sat on the floor to encourage Alesha to blow out the candles. In the hearts of the two, they knew, that this might be the last time they saw their little girl blow out the birthday candles. This is the harsh reality that deeply broke the hearts of both of Alesha’s parents.
But on that day, Dadan hopes that at least he can ease a little burden on his parents and help bring joy to Alesha and her family.
What are we doing to help?
Alesha was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) at the age of 12. When she entered into Rachel House’s services, her cancer had spread to the lungs, and was no longer responding to curative treatment.
The cancerous mass had penetrated Alesha’s skin, leaving a gaping wound. Cancer damaged her body system, resulting in intestinal obstruction which made Alesha often feel severe pain and extreme discomfort in her stomach. Alesha’s movements also became limited. The only thing that can entertain Alesha is just watching anime.
As Alesha and her family refused to go to the hospital amid the ongoing pandemic, Dadan’s nurse visit was the only medical support they could rely on to help manage the increasingly complex symptoms of Alesha’s disease. Nurse Dadan had to go through a lot of challenges to be able to give Alesha access to high doses of morphine, to keep Alesha comfortable and pain-free. Luckily for Alesha, the oncology doctor and the team at the hospital are still willing to work with Dadan to make sure Alesha feels comfortable.
We couldn’t imagine what Alesha’s last days would be like without the presence of nurse Dadan by her side. For every child cared for by Rachel House, we recognize that there are more children out there who have to endure pain and suffering, in the absence of access to the care they desperately need.
This is what keeps our nurses going, in the midst of various obstacles in order to reach the children who need us. The smile on Alesha’s face was our encouragement, filling our hearts with deep gratitude, because we knew, at that moment, she was in good shape.
*name changed for privacy