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Chapter 1: A Childhood Cut Short


"A Childhood Cut Short" is a heart-wrenching and powerful narrative that provides a glimpse into the life of Christine, a young cancer survivor who faced the challenges of childhood leukemia. The passage takes readers through a journey from the innocence of Christine's early childhood, her diagnosis with leukemia at a tender age, to the emotional and physical toll that the disease and its treatment had on her.

The passage beautifully captures Christine's vibrant personality, her joy for life, and the sudden shift from carefree innocence to the harsh reality of battling a life-threatening illness. The contrast between her untamed spirit and the medical interventions that followed, like losing her hair and being hooked up to IVs, underscores the dramatic changes she underwent.

The emotion conveyed in the passage, from the confusion and innocence of a young child asking her mother about the situation to the family's struggle with the dire odds of her survival, resonates deeply. The hospital environment, where Christine found a sense of belonging and solidarity among other young cancer patients, becomes a poignant symbol of her strength and resilience in the face of adversity.

Christine's story not only highlights the physical toll that cancer can take but also explores the emotional and psychological impact on a young individual's sense of identity, belonging, and self-worth. Through her perspective, the reader gains insight into the complex emotional journey of a child navigating a life-altering diagnosis.

This passage serves as a testament to the importance of sharing personal stories like Christine's, as they shed light on the struggles faced by childhood cancer survivors and remind us all of the strength and courage that resides within them. Her story encourages empathy and understanding, while also inspiring action to support cancer research and improve the lives of those affected by the disease.

"Invisible" by Christine Mulvihill is a poignant and evocative poem that offers a glimpse into the emotional landscape of a childhood cancer survivor. The poem beautifully captures the feelings of isolation, loneliness, and invisibility that can often accompany the experience of going through such a challenging journey.

The metaphor of invisibility is used to convey the sense of being overlooked, both physically and emotionally. The poem speaks to the desire to have the freedom to move without constraint, to be able to do things that might be forbidden under different circumstances. However, as the poem unfolds, it becomes clear that this invisibility is not a desired superpower; rather, it's a representation of the profound isolation that can come with battling a serious illness.

The verses depict a deep yearning for connection, understanding, and empathy. The feeling of being ignored or overlooked in a crowded room is portrayed as a painful experience that magnifies one's sense of solitude. The lines "When your tears fall down with grace / No one is there to wipe your face" highlight the absence of emotional support during vulnerable moments.
The poem underscores the longing for companionship, the desire for someone to hold a hand and provide reassurance in times of fear and despair. The repetition of the word "forever" towards the end emphasizes the enduring nature of this isolation, creating a powerful and somber effect.

Through its heartfelt and candid expression, "Invisible" offers readers a window into the emotional challenges faced by cancer survivors. It reflects the complexity of their feelings and the importance of acknowledging and addressing the emotional scars that can linger long after the physical battle is won. The poem's raw honesty encourages empathy and understanding, reminding us of the value of supporting and connecting with those who have endured such hardships.

A Childhood Cut Short

My name is Christine and I am a 15-year-old childhood cancer survivor. I thought that after I was discharged from the hospital everything would be normal or even sort of normal, but that’s not how this story goes. You see, somewhere through all this my soul has been scared and a curse cast upon myself, a curse I will take to my grave.

I remember the day before I was brought into the hospital I was at my old cottage, my favorite place to be as a young carefree little girl. I remember we were at my favorite beach, I was wearing my favorite pink top, that was of course weather inappropriate, but I was a very independent little girl, I had perfect, curly, golden blond hair, but I never let my mom or dad do my hair or dress me. Even in our family photo I woke my big brother and insisted on wearing my christening dress. I was as wild as my hair which I hated being brushed, yet seemed to keep its radiance even in the wind of our common boat rides and open hooded car rides in our old Firebird convertible. I was just an untameable and happy kid.

My childhood …well what I got from the first three years, apart from being punished for my random acts of boldness; was the best time of my life. I always look back and think about the life I had and could have had. I thought nothing could stop me …boy was I wrong!

When I was about three my summer and childhood was cut short when I was diagnosed with Leukemia. I can’t remember all the details or even how I got to the hospital but I was with my grandma and she noticed the lack of color in my face, and just like that I went from normal little girl to a small body in a hospital bed with lines and tubes running through my body.

I had no idea then just how much this would impact my life.

My story begins at the age of three at The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO).

I saw the tears in my mother’s eyes and the concern on my father’s face. I had no idea why or what was happening. “What’s going on momma?” I asked her. She didn’t reply, she just held my hand and started to cry.

Less than 40% chance is not what anyone would have hoped for. But you can’t change the odds; you can only fight against them.

When we found out that I had ALL, (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) my family members tried to explain to me what was going to happen, but I know now that nothing in the entire world could prepared me for what was about to happen.

Before I knew it, I was hooked up to an IV and all my long blonde gorgeous hair was gone, once perfectly placed on my two-year-old head, now on my pillow.

Looking back, all I had ever wanted as a child was to be loved and accepted. There was only one place I had ever felt equal and that was the fourth floor of the hospital where I was treated as a patient with leukemia. That was the one place I never looked at myself in the mirror and felt I didn’t belong. When I was there it was the only time I was not the only bald headed three year old with a hole in my chest. I was one of many little children fighting for life. In that hospital I found all the love and care I could ever ask for.


A Childhood Cancer Survivor Poem
© 2016 Christine Mulvihill

If I were invisible no one could see
I could go places I wouldn't be allowed to be
I'd see things no one else could
I'd do things no one else would.

This amazing ability seems not to exist
But I can feel it when I clench my fist
When I walk into the room not a soul does stare
It feels as if I'm not even there
Not a single person turns their face
No matter how hard I try to walk with grace.

So this wonderful feeling isn't so wonderful after all
No one will notice when you fall
Even if your heart falls out
Not even a rat will start to pout.

In a crowded room you're all alone
No one can hear you when you moan.
Yell and Scream all sorts of profanity
Go ahead, declare insanity.

No one even knows you breathe
A loneliness you could never conceive
It feels so bad to know that no one cares
It feel horrible to know that you're not there.

When your tears fall down with grace
No one is there to wipe your face
There's no hand you can hold and know it's going to be alright
There's no one you can talk to when you're scared late at night.

So if this feeling sounds good to you
Take my place, I want you to
But only if you can make it to the end
All the way without a friend
Without a soul by your side
No one in which to confide
Forever condemned to yourself
Forever alone,
Forever silent; forever invisible.

Other poems of interest for A Childhood Cut Short

          ConFiDenCe           I Am a Rainbow          Not Invisable

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