On May 8, 2014, my 10-year old son Erik was diagnosed with AML, a rare form of leukemia. It was a shock for all of us. Our whole world crashed when the doctors told us how aggressive AML is, and that in a few weeks it might have been too late for Erik. He was immediately admitted to the oncology unit of the children’s hospital in Bielefeld, Germany and treatment was started.
Even though I panicked and feared for the life of my son, I had to explain to him what the treatment would be like, and what the outcome could be. He was old enough to understand that there would be pain, he was going to lose his hair, and he would not be able to leave the hospital for a long time, play with his friends or go to school. It was a tough time for all of us.
During the first weeks, Erik received very strong chemotherapy and suffered many side effects. He was depressed, full of pain, and didn’t want to eat much. During this time, Erik’s brother and his friends tried to visit him as much as possible.
One day on our way back to the clinic, my son made a decision. He told me that he would start fighting, and together with us, he would make it. It was a strong “Yes, I can,” and I was very impressed. From that day on, he felt better, started to keep fit by playing football again, and maintained his weight - which was very important during this hard treatment phase.
The treatment went well and in October 2014, after only five months after the diagnosis, Erik was able to finish the treatment in the clinic. After one year of treatment at home, and another year of going to the clinic once or twice a month, he has now taken the next step and we only need to go to the clinic every three months. But, his feelings stayed the same. He was nervous every time he has to go for a blood test, and every infection brings fear.
The doctors, nurses, and the therapeutic staff did their best each day to help the suffering children. While my son was in treatment at the clinic, we decided to give something back to them. Erik asked me to write an adventure book about dragons. I learned from the clinic staff that many kids viewed chemotherapy as a kind of good dragon fighting with fire against the disease in their bodies.
Currently, four books about Sigon, the blue dragon, have been released. The money from selling the books and from related projects like drawing or writing competitions, readings, and fundraising events were given to a parent initiative from the Oncology Unit in Bielefeld.
During the last two years, many children who were in the clinic together with us lost their fight against this dreadful disease. To keep these little fighters in our memory, I dedicated my books to them.
Sabine and Katharina, two colleagues of mine, became very involved and several times a year provided me with crocheted and knitted guardian animals, and little guardian angels made of pearls. These little gifts are given to the sick children when they go to the lab for blood drawings or when they have to undergo surgeries or other painful treatments in the clinic.
Right now, we keep hoping that the leukemia will never come back. My son is making plans for his future and tries to forget and enjoy his life, like any other ordinary 13-year old boy.
World Cancer Day