Paediatrician shares heartbreaking wishes of terminally ill kids
Even though these kids are terminally ill, their responses to Dr Alastair McAlpine prove that they value only the intangible in life. Read on to get inspired.
What do kids wish for, if you ask them? Sweets, a phone, or more TV time might be some of the answers. Now, what happens if these same kids are terminally ill, and you ask them the same question?
This is exactly what a palliative paediatrician from Cape Town wanted to find out, and find out he did in the most heartbreaking way.
As part of an interactive activity, paediatrician Alastair McAlpine asked his tiny patients – all terminally ill – to share the things they enjoyed most in life and what gave life meaning. To his surprise, what followed were pearls of wisdom, beautiful enough to inspire even the most cynical adult.
Dr McAlpine shared the discussion as a thread on his Twitter account.
“For an assignment, I asked some of my terminal paediatric palliative care patients what they had enjoyed in life, and what gave it meaning. Kids can be so wise, y’know. Here are some of the responses (Thread) (sic),” he began.
The paediatrician first shared all the things that didn’t matter to the kids. These included watching television for long hours, spending time on Facebook, fighting with others and especially being in a hospital.
“NONE said they wished they’d watched more TV, NONE said they should’ve spent more time on Face Book, NONE said they enjoyed fighting with others, NONE enjoyed hospital,” he tweeted.
Then the kids moved on to talk about the things they did enjoy.
They spoke about their beloved pets and stray animals who made their day a happy one. “I love when Ginny snuggles up to me at night and purrs,'” one child told McAlpine about a cat. While another one said, “His funny bark makes me laugh.”
They also shared who they thought would miss them the most. Some shared how they worried if their parents would be alright once they were gone.
“‘MANY mentioned their parents, often expressing worry or concern: ‘Hope mum will be ok. She seems sad.’ ‘Dad mustn’t worry. He’ll see me again soon.’ ‘God will take care of my mum and dad when I’m gone,'” McAlpine tweeted.
The paediatrician then went on to describe how all of them had similar likes. “ALL of them loved ice-cream,” he wrote adding that the kids also loved to read books and especially loved it when their parents read to them.
“ALL of them loved books or being told stories, especially by their parents: ‘Harry Potter made me feel brave.’ ‘I love stories in space!’, ‘I want to be a great detective like Sherlock Holmes when I’m better!’
“Folks, read to your kids! They love it,” McAlpine tweeted.
These kids are terminally ill, but having fun, spending time with family and a good sense of humour was important to them.
“Many of them loved swimming, and the beach,” McAlpine tweeted as one kid told him. “I made big sandcastles!”, “Being in the sea with the waves was so exciting! My eyes didn’t even hurt!” said others.
The doctor also went on to share that the kids understood the value of true friends and family who stood by them in their difficult times.
They also wished that they spent less time trying to please others. Because only those who truly loved them accepted them with all their flaws.
He tweeted that many of these terminally ill care patients wished, “they had spent less time worrying about what others thought of them, and valued people who just treated them ‘normally.'”
One child told him, “My real friends didn’t care when my hair fell out,” while another said, “Jane came to visit after the surgery and didn’t even notice the scar!”
One thing was common among them – they gravitated towards kindness and love.
McAlpine also shared that all of his terminally ill patients valued kindness and loved to be around those who made them laugh.
“Almost ALL of them valued kindness above most other virtues,” he tweeted. He shared that one kid told him that his grandmother was especially kind to him and she always made him laugh.
Another said that his friends were sweet and caring towards him and his needs.
“I like it when that kind nurse is here. She’s gentle. And it hurts less,” shared one child.
McAlpine then added that almost all the children loved people who made them laugh. “That magician is so silly! His pants fell down and I couldn’t stop laughing!” one said. “My daddy pulls funny faces which I just love!” shared another.
These experiences led to McAlpine noting that laughter relieves pain, especially for these kids.
The doctor finally tweeted that while they valued kindness and humour, they were most grateful for loving families.
“Finally, they ALL valued time with their family. Nothing was more important.”
“Mum and dad are the best!”, “My sister always hugs me tight,” “No one loves me like mummy loves me!” he tweeted about all the loving memories the kids shared.
The specialist then summed up the seven takeaways from his interaction with these terminally ill kids, who were, in a way, sharing their dying wishes. He shared that even though the kids are terminally ill, they understood the true meaning of life.
He tweeted, “Take home message: Be kind. Read more books. Spend time with your family. Crack jokes. Go to the beach. Hug your dog. Tell that special person you love them.”
“These are the things these kids wished they could’ve done more. The rest is details. Oh… and eat ice-cream,” McAlpine shared.
McAlpine’s interaction with these terminally ill kids is proof that life is not about the tangible, but the intangible. All the things that we often run away from are actually the ones that matter – family, love, peace and time with each other.
The most important people in our lives are often those who accept us with all our faults and imperfections. And even though these kids are terminally ill, they prove that the more you love such people, the more happy and content you feel.
If this piece of news doesn’t make your day, it’s perhaps time to reflect and check what you’re missing in life.