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Fighting a “War” against Leukemia on 4-E

By Rachid, a Children’s National Hospital parent
Savi & Marcel

This may sound weird, but when my son Savi was diagnosed with leukemia and hospitalized for 18 days at Children’s National Hospital, our family had some of the best times of our lives. We also learned about compassion, strength and resilience. Savi was diagnosed a few days after he and his twin brother, Marcel, turned 2.


We were devastated, of course. But the people on 4th floor East — the oncology department — are like revolutionaries fighting a jungle war. They fought hard and refused to give up. They also kept us laughing, dancing and eating ice cream along the way.

 

They were very human from the start. Doctors told my wife, Anita, it’s OK to be angry at life, when she told them how she felt. The team greeted us like family every time we walked into the clinic. They empowered Savi with choices, such as whether he wanted to take his temperature with his left arm or his right. Doctors sometimes examined Savi in the art room, asking about his drawing instead of asking him to move to an exam room. They always included Marcel, weighing them both, for instance, and checking Marcel’s mouth for sores so he felt like he was a part of the process.

 

Savi is now 4 and in the final phase of his three-and-a-half-year treatment plan. Many days, he and Marcel ride their bikes and play soccer and laugh. We left home for an appointment at the hospital one day recently. Savi was throwing up. He felt bad, but he said, “Papá, don’t forget the bingo.” He couldn’t wait to get there.

My contributions to Savi’s treatment seem minute compared to that of the doctors and staff on 4-E. They have held our hands through this war. Bringing Savi to them makes me feel like my family is doing something great for my son. I’m indebted to them. The journey has been brutal, but juxtaposed with beauty and triumph.

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