Cameron McCulloch

 In Survivor stories

Miracles happen every day. Sometimes we do not recognise a miracle until long afterwards. Every miracle is a Gift from God.

I would like to share just a few of our miracles with you:

On my 33rd birthday, our third child and first son was born, seven years after his sister. He lived a happy, healthy and mischievous childhood. At the age of 15 he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Because it was situated in the speech centre of the brain, everyone was loath to touch it. Another miracle – a young SA neurologist was on the point of returning to SA. He had spent time in Canada perfecting speech tracing during a Craniotomy. Our Cameron became the flagship for this now popular, highly successful procedure.

Lightening can strike the same place twice! Three months later Cameron was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

Our 4th child, and his baby brother aged 5 at the time, was a perfectly matched bone marrow donor. To all those colleagues who questioned our proud announcement of having a 4th child 14 years after the first, with ” Why?” Another miracle FOR SPARE PARTS!!

I’d like to share some of the “rocks” to which we clung, while the turbulent waters raged around us:

  • The smooth, sunwarmed rock of LOVE AND SUPPORT. Accept it graciously, fill up your heart with it. Take up the offers of ready cooked meals or babysitting so you can be freed up to have your haircut, or even accept a strong, warm hug.
  • The weatherworn rock of MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE MEDICAL STAFF. Find out about their families while they are so caringly looking after yours. Once they are your friends those continual trips back for treatment, will have more of “a visit to old friends””a visit to old friends” flavour.
    “Trust the honest physician, for he sees by the Light of God.”
  • That dark, brooding rock of KNOW YOUR ENEMY. Find out about your form of the disease, know the different treatment protocols. Knowledge is power, and we are only scared of what we don’t understand.
  • Just one of the many rocks you might rush past – BE GUIDED BY COMMONSENSE AND INTUITION. If something doesn’t feel right, challenge it. I remember a very solemn stage of Cameron’s treatment. It was during all the preliminary tests prior to transplantation. A doctor of nuclear medicine had pronounced that the ejection fraction of his heart was insufficient to support the rigours of transplantation. As Yvon and I very dejectedly and downheartedly made our way down the staircase, feeling that the last door had closed very firmly on all of us, Cameron said in a bright questioning voice – “how can I be in heart failure? I still play better soccer than all my friends.”
  • HUMOUR. What a great craggy handhold that is. There were times when slightly hysterical laughter supported us through the gloomiest of situations. During the first bone marrow biopsy, Cameron scared of the pain he had to endure, I scared that this biopsy would not prove the diagnosis of leukaemia wrong – just as the haematologist pierced the skin, we were startled to suddenly hear a young boy’s voice break into “I’ve got you under my skin”. The very many biopsies were all coped with musically. Another biopsy favourite was “I’m a brave, brave mouse.”
    • Suitable names were given to many treatments or items. I am sure the nursing staff at our hospital are still calling that very nourishing food supplement “VROTSURE.”
      Another memory is of a slightly high child asking “please can I take some Pethidine home in a doggybag?”
    • Or an argument overheard between the two boys “well if you won’t share your Playstation then I won’t share MY Stem cells.”
    • Or Cameron, slightly tongue in cheek, wondering if he would inherit his brother’s freckles along with his stem cells.
    We always knew that God was in control. Trust in the Lord with all your heart.

Isaiah 43 vs 1 & 2:

“Do not be afraid – I will save you. I have called you by name – you are mine.
When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you;
Your troubles will not overwhelm you.
When you pass through fire, you will not be burnt:
The hard trials that come will not hurt you.”

Proverbs 4 verses 20 to 24 The Good News Edition:

“Listen to my words. Never let them get away from you. Remember them and keep them in your heart. They will give life and health to anyone who understands them.”

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.”
Margaret McCulloch, mother of Cameron, now 22 – a survivor of acute leukaemia