A Big Brother Gives Thanks

November 26, 2012
Topics: Cancer (oncology)

When the staff at Riley Hospital for Children saves a child, they save an entire network of relationships. My oldest son, Blake, and his brother, Ben, have been best buddies (mostly) since Ben first came home wrapped in blankets. Blake was 5, and Ben one-and-a-half when we found out about Ben's brain tumor; both were too young to fully understand the danger. Blake was more interested in the toys and books in the hospital's library than in his brother's sickness. "Ben's head is sewed," he said after Ben's successful tumor removal surgery.

During the period of Ben's treatment and recovery, there was only one thought capable of breaking me completely: These brothers would be broken up by cancer. Blake would comfort Ben when the radiation treatments made him sick and never complained much about the extra attention his brother received. As for Ben, even when his face was puffy, his weight low, and his energy drained, a smile would light up his face whenever Blake entered the room.

One day a few months ago, sensing the tension in the house which comes before every one of Ben's MRIs, Blake woke up shrieking uncontrollably. If I ever doubted it, I understood then that these boys went through this thing together, and Riley's staff saved not just Ben but Ben and Blake. I had no brother or sister growing up, and don't know much about the bond between siblings, but it must be strong.

The other day Blake completed a Thanksgiving craft project in his first grade class. Inside, he wrote, "I am thankful that Ben's cancer is gone."

Me, too.

Chris Edwards, Ed. D.

Chris Edwards, Ed.D, teaches AP World History teacher at Fishers High School, and is the author of several books including 'Teaching Genius: Redefining Education with Lessons from Science and Philosophy.' Chris donates the royalties from 'Teaching Genius' to Riley Children's Foundation in support of pediatric cancer research at Riley Hospital. Chris and his wife Beth live in New Palestine are the parents of two boys, Blake, and Ben, who is doing well after being treated at Riley for a cancerous brain tumor.

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