Over five years ago I received the news that my eldest child had leukaemia. It didn’t come as an enormous shock to me, he had clearly been unwell for a while. I didn’t feel hysterical, shocked or even tearful as you might expect. I felt relieved. Relieved that there was a reason why my son couldn’t climb the stairs, why he was falling more frequently, why his joints had been troubling him and why he looked so ill and grey. I was relieved that his diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) meant that he could be treated with a highly refined and successful protocol. In many ways I think we have been lucky. He has been off any treatment for over two years now. The risk of relapse is very low indeed and he is a normal, healthy boy. You can read more about our experiences here.
Five years ago, things were very different. Although the treatment for his form of ALL is all delivered on an outpatient basis, he spent most of December in hospital because of how ill it made him. He was anaemic and required blood transfusions, he had infections and at times he was in a lot of pain. Whenever he was admitted to hospital, one of the things that got us through was laughter. Despite his young age (he was only three) he could ‘get’ certain jokes. We tried our best to find simple gags to keep him (and us) laughing. One of my best friends, whose brother had died of leukaemia ten years earlier (he was much older and had a lot more complications due to his other health issues) got her Mum to collect the jokes from Christmas crackers for us. It was a great idea and now I want to resurrect it.
Last week I got the news that a little boy we have known since his birth has a tumour that is likely to need some fairly aggressive chemotherapy in the New Year. It is fair to say that I was more shocked and horrified by this news than I was about my own son’s cancer. His parents have a lot to think about at the moment because his cancer is rarer and requires more specialised treatment. At times like this it is natural to want to help but really, there is only so much you can do. I will certainly be making some one-pot home cooked meals to give them because I know how much I appreciated such things when my boy was sick. I will keep my appointments to give blood because I know how important transfusions are in cancer treatment. But what I want to do most of all is find something to make this little boy smile when times are tough.
I had a brain wave on Wednesday. It was Christmas dinner day at my children’s school and all the children get a cracker. I quickly rustled up a cracker shaped container and enlisted the help of the Deputy Head to collect all the jokes. The staff and children did a brilliant job of donating their jokes – we collected well over 100. Of course, lots of them are the same joke repeated but it feels good to know that everyone played their part.
So, I want your help. Send me your cracker jokes, send me your ‘Doctor, Doctor’ jokes, send me any jokes that will make an eight year old laugh and I will pass them on. You can leave them in the comments here. If you are local I will collect the actual jokes from the crackers from you. If you are not local but want to send me the jokes from inside your crackers, mention it in your comment and I will let you know how to post them.
I really hope that you can help me out this Christmas because it is going to be a difficult New Year for my friends. Anything that can help them through this will be much appreciated.
P.S. I’d rather keep this off Facebook/Twitter etc. at the moment because I want it to be a surprise.