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GUEST COLUMN: My Unforgettable Journey: How my nine-year-old son helped me through chemotherapy

Sherry Clouthier I am 45 years old, diagnosed with ovarian cancer in May, 2014. I underwent surgery in July and am currently having chemotherapy treatment.
Sherry Clouthier and her son Sam Formosa.Submitted Photo
Sherry Clouthier and her son Sam Formosa. Submitted Photo

Sherry Clouthier

I am 45 years old, diagnosed with ovarian cancer in May, 2014. I underwent surgery in July and am currently having chemotherapy treatment. I have a wonderful support system of family and friends, especially my two boys, ages 29 and 9 who both mean the world to me. It’s been a tough road so far but I never would have made it through without a very special person in my life. I call him my “Co-Survivor”, the one who has been by my side from the very beginning of it all. His name is Sam, my sweet little 9-year-old boy. Let me introduce you to him by sharing just why I nominate him for this award.

For that long six weeks of recovery, Sam took the absolute best care of me. Every day he woke me with a kiss and hug and asked me how I slept and how I was feeling. He sat with me throughout the day.  He told me jokes, even gave me his favorite blanket. He took over, cleaning up around the house, making sure I was drinking and eating, even helped out with the laundry. We read to each other, watching movies, making each other laugh and eating popsicles. He took on the role of caring for me. Sam sacrificed his summer months, to make me feel the best I could. It was his quest, he says.

When I started chemo, I knew it was time to tell Sam I had cancer.  He needed to know before he saw the changes in me. He was very quiet at first and asked if everyone else knew. I told him yes and I saved him for last. His next words were “you should have told me first Mommy”.  He said, “I’m not afraid of the cancer, I am afraid for you losing your hair”.

When I started to lose my hair, we went wig shopping. We tried on wigs together. He told me I looked beautiful with hair and without hair. At home, we wore wigs and danced around the house.

Although he never came to the hospital when I had chemo, he was always waiting for me when I finished, asking me how I did. He would say, “I got your back Mommy, you can lean on me when you need to”.

Such a hard thing to take on as a child, the thought of possibly losing a parent. I remember one day him saying “if mommy dies, that’s it, I’m done, there is no more me”. At that point I realized even though he showed courage and gave me hope, he was hurting inside and worried, but still stayed positive and made me feel like the most important person in the world.

Since the time Sam entered our lives, he has been a blessing to all of us. He is the most compassionate, sensitive little boy I know. His kind, gentle ways affect everyone around him. He puts everyone else first before himself.

Although he knows just how much I appreciate everything he has done for me and how he has been the one who has made this journey a lot easier, I feel he deserves recognition. To take on such a role at a young age, to be strong and show his bravery is amazing. I am so grateful to have him in my life. I could not have made it through without him.

I love you Sam…you are my inspiration…you have made me become a stronger person!

Editor’s Note: Sherry Clouthier is a Sarnia cancer survivor who completed her chemo treatments last month. Her story, as written above, has been nominated for a ‘Co-Survivor Award’ at Facing Cancer Together, a Canadian cancer support group. To help Sam win, click on the English and French links below and vote for “My Unforgettable Journey.” Voting ends Feb. 2.

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