NO PAIN, NO GAIN
Craig's mother tells of what happens when she and Ernie, his
dad, talked to the doctor in America.
"Isn't there anything at all you can do?" I asked. Dr
Kassell hesitated. "There is one possibility", he said,
"but the operation would carry a lot of risks. The tumour is
in a very bad place. Craig could die on the operating table, or
very soon afterwards. Even if he doesn't die, the operation could
make him blind or deaf or leave him in a coma." "If it's
a success will he have a fuller life - will he get back to how he
was?" I asked. "No". Dr Kassell shook his head. "It
would be wrong for me to hold out that hope for you. The most I
think it could give him would be another six to nine months of life
- but I really don't know ... Go home for Christmas ... consult
with your English doctors." Then he added quietly "If
you decide to go ahead then I am willing to operate in the new year."
We walked out to the secretary's desk ... Ernie tried to smile,
but he looked very down. I knew he had read the same message into
the doctor's words as I had. Dr Kassell didn't expect that Craig
would even live until Christmas.
In England some days later, Craig's mother knew that
the moment had come to tell Craig the truth.
That afternoon while Craig was sitting in the chair in the
front room I sat on the floor at his feet. Taking hold of
his hands I said, "Craig, do you want to go back to America?"
"Yeh" he said. "Craig, I've got to talk to
you about it." I took a deep breath. "You do know
you have got to have a very serious operation and if this
operation goes wrong, you could die?" I'd not felt the
need to say this to him before the first operation, but then
he had been only nine. Now I was talking to an eleven-year-old.
I knew I had a duty to spell it out to him, to involve him
in the decision.
He gave a little chuckle. "I won't die, Mum. Don't worry!
I won't die!" ... "If you were to have this operation,
Craig, you would most likely have all that terrible pain all
over again. Do you really want to go through that?" "Mum",
he said, "No pain, no gain."... and that was that.
Reprinted with permission from the October 1991 Reader's
Digest magazine. © The Reader's Digest Association
Footnote: Three years later, having had the operation,
Craig was still alive and able to enjoy watching his favourite
football team and being with his family and friends