Q: Our 12-year-old nephew was diagnosed with leukemia about a year and a half ago. We were afraid that he was going to die but he didn’t. He was recently told that he is cancer free. Our nephew has had a different kind of experience and I am wondering if we should treat him like other kids or make allowances for his illness?
A: I have no doubt that your nephew wants to be treated the same as your other nieces and nephews. He wants to be a kid, to play and hang out with others and be silly at times. It’s a reminder to everyone in the family that life is too short to be too serious all of the time.
The problem your nephew has is that he is no longer just like the other kids. He has had a life-threatening illness. The good news is that the cure rate for this cancer is as high as 80 percent.
Facing death for most young people is humbling. Knowing how inept any of us are when dealing with death and dying is humiliating.
Most young people do not have to deal with death and dying. It is not in their immediate agendas. They play their baseball games to win and make their way toward their high school graduation.
It is different for your nephew. He is likely more mature than other kids his age. He can have fun but he also knows that nothing is more exciting than having one more day to enjoy his life.