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A friend in deed

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By John Whitlock

Can there be anything more heart-breaking than having a sick or injured child?

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had two people I know endure that special pain.

The News-Herald Office Manager, Sherry Lyons, is dealing with her daughter’s accident. Sherry is a very strong woman and seems to be handling things as well as possible.

Things haven’t been so good for another friend of mine.

A tumor was recently found on the kidney of a dear friend’s 3-year-old son, Seth.

Doctors said the tumor was bigger than the boy’s kidney.

The tumor was discovered on Monday.

By Wednesday, the child was in a Philadelphia hospital having one of his kidneys removed.

If the tumor comes back as cancerous, this boy will face 18 weeks of chemotherapy.

I can’t imagine the pain, uncertainty and anguish my friend Robert and his wife, Becky, must be going through.

When I think about it, all I can see is that young boy screaming through chemotherapy.

It’s tough to be a friend in a situation like this. Robert lives on the east coast, so dropping by isn’t possible. Anything I can say seems shallow, trivial and inconsequential.

When we get the chance to talk, I ask all the right questions and submit the necessary sympathy.  Normally, I am never at a loss for something to say but in a case like this, everything seems weak.

How can you comfort someone whose child is facing a life-or-death struggle?

It worried me that I wasn’t being a good enough friend. I wanted to do more.

But then I  got an e-mail from Robert. He said he was touched by the outpouring of concern and support from his friends.

That simple gesture made me feel better.

But as I read further, I realized my own feelings of helplessness were irrelevant compared to what Robert and Becky were going through.

After the surgery. I received an update from Robert:

Things right now are looking better. Seth actually got out of bed last night and walked around and played in the playroom for like 30 minutes. He was in good spirits and started to get his ornery side back as well. He was allowed to start drinking clear liquids last night and that went well.

 He was allowed to eat solids this morning and attacked some crackers with gusto. The surgery team said if the pain monitoring team decides to remove his epidermal and he keeps solid food down today he could go home tomorrow ... just waiting for the treatment team to tell us what their study said about his tumor and nodes to see what his treatment will be. They are the last hurdle to overcome before he can go home. We are hoping perhaps for a Saturday return home but most likely Monday ...

Since receiving that note, most of the news has been good.

Seth took his first round of chemo well. He didn’t get sick and even helped out the nurses a bit.

The nature of friendship isn’t always being physically close to someone. It’s more intangible. It’s about having a bond with someone that time and distance doesn’t crack.

This incident made me realize  something.

I’ve known Robert for over 20 years. Our friendship has evolved from shared interests and proximity.

These days, our simple friendship binds us together.