Even while bravely battling cancer for five years, Govind could make people laugh. It’s how his loved ones remember the sweet strong boy three years after his passing at Rotary Flames House, where he spent his final days filled with happiness and love. Govind was only four when he was diagnosed with stage 4, high-risk neuroblastoma after an ultrasound revealed a mass around his kidney and in adrenal glands and a CT scan found the cancer had spread all over his body. His parents were shocked. They didn’t even know what the word “oncology” meant. Suddenly their usual active boy was faced with a year and a half journey of cancer treatment, which, at the beginning, included several rounds of chemotherapy, surgery, a stem cell transplant, radiation and immunotherapy. He was scared to go to hospital at first, but after a few months, he and his family started to realize it was the best place he could be to try to get better. He began immunotherapy in May and that month, finally joined his friends and classmates in Kindergarten who had sent him cards in hospital.
Over the next two years, he fought courageously. He was even well enough to take a Wish Trip to Disneyland and a family trip to Mexico. But despite making progress, sadly, the cancer returned to a new site – his skull and ribs. He began more treatment, but eventually his family had to make the difficult decision to move him to palliative care at Rotary Flames House. They explained to him that he would be visiting a new place for another form of treatment to make him feel better. Eventually, Govind and his parents moved into the House and it started to feel like home. Shilpa laughs that he was given anything he wanted from the staff – including the biggest room and pop! They made his last few weeks feel special and made him feel loved. He loved having the doctor-approved chance to visit and spend time with his friends, eating his favourite foods and sweets, and playing video games. Shilpa said it was like he knew his time was ending. He never went home again, but it didn’t bother him. He was content at Rotary Flames House. During his final days, he was given medication to go to sleep, and his family said their heart-wrenching goodbyes thinking he would never wake up. But then to their surprise, he awoke to use the bathroom! His mom took him and afterward Govind said, “Mom, can I just hug you?” They embraced in a beautiful moment she will hold on to forever. While he slept for the next two days, friends joined his family at his bedside to tell him the funny things that happened at school. Then, he passed away peacefully. At Govind’s wish, his tumour was donated to cancer research in the hopes that someday, no other child has to go through what he did.
Govind taught his family to smile, even through pain during his long cancer journey. They will always treasure how Rotary Flames House made him feel so loved and special during his final days.
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