Funny what medications can do to a body. Even funnier, and in most cases, lesser known is what harsh treatments do to the mind.
I was one of the few kids who wouldn't have passed the NFL drug policy. One of the drugs I was on was called Prednisone - a steroid used for everything from bad allergies to cancer treatments.
Side effects are numerous. I was a solid 6 year old that ballooned into a 130 lb 8 year old. By the time I hit 7th grade, I was 150 and climbing.
By comparison today, my 9 year old son is 75 lbs.
I don't like to sit and list blame criteria. It's a common issue with cancer survivors - Who is to blame? What causes this? Why me?
Still, it was widely known that the Pred was something that caused, at times, much weight gain. I honestly don't even know why I was on the stuff. You don't get much say at that age.
What is left behind is an overweight kid who still hides the scars from being the butt of the cruelest jokes. The circle was complete - made fun of, go home eat more, gain more weight, be made fun of more.
Let's not get all crybaby about it. It was a long time ago and we all know kids can be cruel. It's a fact of life and part of the emotional maturation process.
I'm also not going to lie. The ripple effects can be enormous.
To this day, I still can't go clothes shopping. I have no issue with certain sizes and all but the images of a fat kid trying on 'husky jeans' always come rushing in and I am 33/34 waist today.
In fact, let's be honest. Many cancer patients can be spotted a mile away. Bald heads. No eyebrows. Weakened walk. Who knows what else but usually the general public has some inkling something is going down.
As a kid? No one really knew. And if they did, the rumors would abound. One kid, the purgatory of my life, would often come up in my face and say wonderful things like, "Oh come on. Everyone knows you have leukemia."
Sigh, no jackass, I don't. At least that was my thought process back to him.
But why bother explaining. And what good would it do in the first place? You simply turned into the kid who couldn't take gym class or the fat kid with the wonky body parts who left early on certain school days.
I am unsure as to what the worst crime against a survivor can be - pity or simply ignoring them.
It's a fine balance. I say treat them as you would anyone else but slip in a "how are you doin?" every now and then. You may be surprised by the answer.
As children, the survivor scope widens. Kids don't have the life experience to cope at times. Who knew anything about Post Traumatic whatever? Who thought a child would be an insomniac at 14? Who knew or cared about the impacts to self image, aptitude or social trauma?
It was shock and awe. I hope it has changed, but I suspect when sniper fire does not work, it reverts to shock and awe.
It is a necessary evil. It is a genie with 3 wishes but with a heavy price to pay.
You can make your way back. I know this much. I just wish I had a guide out of the hole, decades ago.
This one is for those who don't think they can make it emotionally.
We can all be something great. In fact, I am pretty sure we all are.