'I went numb'
Mom recalls moment 11-year-old son, who had cancer, died in her armsTuesday, July 27, 2021
BY ROCHELLE CLAYTON
SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — Iesha Vickers admits that she was deprived of sensation when her 11-year-old son Javier Forrester died in her arms on Sunday. But even as she tries to come to terms with his passing, Vickers takes some comfort in the fact that her boy is no longer in pain.
“[Sunday] was the hardest day for me, ever. At the time when his hand slipped from my hand and I realised that he is gone, I went numb. I didn't know myself, everything in me was numb; I couldn't feel and then I realised that his pain is actually gone, and you know, I accepted it and I know that he is in a better place,” Vickers told the Jamaica Observer.
In February this year Vickers had made an appeal for help, through the Observer, for her son who had last September been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer. At the time Javier was receiving chemotherapy treatment at Bustamante Hospital for Children in St Andrew.
The youngster was admitted to the hospital in June after he developed trouble breathing due to what doctors said was pleural effusion, sometimes referred to as water on the lungs.
“In June, when they started the new [chemotherapy] treatment, he started to develop breathing issues, so they ran some more tests on him and it showed that there was a tumour growing in his lung so that caused fluid to build up in the pleura space, causing the shortness of breath; he was on oxygen since June,” said Vickers.
“They admitted him to Bustamante Hospital for Children to help get that water from his lungs to see if he would have breathed properly. When the doctor did [an] x-ray, he said that one of the lungs had practically collapsed — that was the one the tumour was in. The tumour was so enlarged that it was pressing [on] the other lung and now [that one] was only working 25 per cent so he was really suffering,” she added.
The child's condition worsened as the weeks went by, but the family was still hopeful.
“He had to get pain meds every three hours and even that time it wasn't working. The pain was so severe, it was very hard to look at him knowing that he was suffering,” she said.
“He went to the theatre on Friday to get a tube in to release some of the water so he could have breathed a little better, but when he came from the theatre we realised that the breathing did not get any better. The doctors said that they saw where the other lung cannot expand because the tumour was so huge in the other one,” Vickers related.
She said that conversation with the doctors opened her eyes to the state of her son's illness.
“I realised they were trying to tell me that he was not going to make it, so I embraced that moment. I was at his bedside from Friday night. [When] his father came on Saturday, I took a little break and then throughout Saturday night until yesterday morning, we didn't move. He was speaking to me, not in full words, but we tried to encourage him, let him know that we love him, and we made calls for him,” the mother told the Observer yesterday.
“On Saturday his voice started to go, he spoke a little bit, but nothing much. He was asking for his grandfather, but my father couldn't reach to him at the time. On Saturday night around 11:00, that's when we realised that he was going, we didn't get anything much from him; he was unresponsive right up until he passed on Sunday at 4:44 pm,” the grieving mother said.
She expressed gratitude to all the people who donated funds to purchase a prosthetic leg for Javier, and in a bid to give back she is looking to donate the prosthesis to another youngster.
“I want to say thanks to the individuals who assisted to get the prosthetic leg. I am reaching out to anybody because he did not wear it [outside]. I am sure somebody out there might need it so I would like to donate it. I want to give back,” she said.
The loss, Vickers said, is devastating as Javier was the baby of the family.
“Right now, as I speak, it is overwhelming [for the family], we can't even support each other. We are trying but it is hard emotionally because Javier was not just a normal child, he had so much positive energy, he made everybody laugh. It is a great loss for our family, but we appreciate that he is out of his pain because he couldn't bear it any longer,” she told the Observer.