The Child’s Voice

Image of a cake with cherries on top. Text reads the quote: "The chemotherapy was the cake, the surgery was the icing and the radiation is the cherry on top!"

Written by Pauline Hammond, Family Support Practitioner

No one understands the experience of life-limiting illness better than the very special children we support. Pauline Hammond, one of our family support practitioners, shares a conversation she had with a Very Special Kids child who recounted his own experience with a terminal cancer condition.  

A Piece of Cake 

He was a very brave and sick ten year old, diagnosed with cancer. He had horrible tests, medicines, and treatments for his cancer, but still powered through each day. 

He questioned doctors about what was going on, and he told the nurses off when they hurt him. He made sure people listened to what he had to say, and he let them know when he was not happy. 

His life has been very different since he got sick.  He was far away from family, friends, and normal routines like school. But this determined little boy asked lots of questions and wasn’t satisfied until all his questions were answered.   

He felt safe enough to know what was going on, after all, it was his life and his cancer. He wanted to tell the people around him what he thought was important – and he did! 

One day the doctor asked him “How are you going?” He answered, “It’s been a piece of cake”. The doctor smiled at him because he knew the treatments had not been easy. The doctor said, “A piece of cake?”.  “Yes”, he said. “The chemotherapy was the cake, the surgery was the icing, and the radiation is the cherry on top!”.

This very special child reminds us to always listen and prioritise what children have to say about their own experience. 

Very Special Kids endorses the rights of the child through adoption of the Victorian Child Safe Standards, and we aim to consider the child’s voice in all the services and programs we offer. This little boy reminds us that his right to be heard and to participate in decision making, is fundamental to his support. His frankness was sometimes confronting to his care team. But I have no doubt that this self-assured little boy has more lessons for us all to learn. I know he has taught me a lot.