What happens when?

“Not how long, but how well you have lived is the main thing.”

— Seneca

I am a specialist in Oral Medicine and Radiology. Today I saw a young girl in the OPD. She was young, about 17years old and was referred to an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon in the College where I work. A resident in my department was examining her. During the course of examination and history we found that she was previously diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in her right humerus (the long bone in your upper arm). The bone was resected and as a consequence she had to lose her right upper limb. She came to us because she had developed a large swelling in her lower jaw. The swelling in her lower jaw looked angry and red and ready to consume anything that was in it’s path. We all knew what it could possibly be – a metastatic tumor in her lower jaw. She was all but 17 – an age where young teens are at the precipice of adulthood and ready to explore and conquer the world, looking forward to complete their +12 education and pursue courses of their dreams and then careers of their choice.

But here she was looking exhausted and probably questioning – why me and possibly even feeling defeated. For the rest of the evening I couldn’t stop thinking of her. She was referred to a tertiary care center by the Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon. As a place of learning we usually encourage residents to make records of unusual cases. Ewing’s sarcoma is not a very common malignancy. It is more common in the ages 10-20 but definitely not common in the Indian subcontinent. A standard protocol would be to perform diagnostic imaging and then referral to a specialist for treatment. Since she would not be continuing treatment with us we decided to

This brief encounter was unsettling for me. She was in my thoughts ever since and also in my prayers. As doctors we learn to put our emotions aside when providing patients with best possible treatments. This was totally different. I think it was her innocence and the sadness in her eyes that found their way to my heart. I really hope things get easier for her and her family. One can only imagine the extent of trauma this must have brought to her and her family.

It put my role as a mother in a different perspective. It made me feel I should cherish every waking moment I have with my child; provide an ambience of comfort and challenges, trust and positivity; make every day special; create value in everyday things that we have in our life – food, clothing, comforts that many don’t even dream of; create opportunity to instill confidence and responsibility and most of all – make her know she is loved no matter what and that I will always be the wind beneath her wings.

Here’s my prayer to every child

Dear child,
I wish you good health and happiness.
I wish you challenges and abundance.
I wish you opportunity and success.
I wish you blessings from God and Universe.
I wish you strength and courage.
I wish for you positivity, a good life and people who bring out the best in you.

What happens when your unlived life flashes before your eyes, in times when you are pensive and reflecting on your life’s decisions and the paths you chose or didn’t choose, the things you gave up to fulfil your roles in your duties and responsibilities, or in the most remote eventuality, your life is brought to a full stop because the Universe decides to surprise you?

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