Speaking to CNA during a recent Zoom interview, Aaron’s mother opened up about the family’s experience and shared the challenges they faced during that period.
“We didn’t really have time to grieve or to process our emotions,” said Ms Leow. “We just went straight into survival mode and focused on the logistics of going for checkups and treatments.”
“I was in the third trimester of my pregnancy with his baby sister and so it was difficult for us because I wasn’t sure how to care for a cancer patient together with a newborn,” said the 35-year-old.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Aaron’s father accompanied him through the course of his treatment as only one assigned caretaker was allowed.
As a result, Ms Leow had to give birth to their daughter Alexa without her husband by her side. Her daughter was also later diagnosed with Kawasaki disease but has since recovered.
“One of the things that got to me the most was that I always wondered if Aaron had lymphoma and his youngest sister had Kawasaki disease and other respiratory issues because of something that I did or didn’t do,” she said, adding that the guilt had haunted her a lot.
While the eight-year-old was rather shy and did not speak much during the interview, he provided many light-hearted moments by pulling funny faces while his mother spoke or chiming in with funny puns.
“When (Aaron) was undergoing chemotherapy, because the drugs affected his appetite a lot, it made him very nauseous … and affected his tastebuds,” said Ms Leow.
“Taste butts!” quipped Aaron, prompting both mother and son to burst into peals of laughter.
To encourage him to eat more and maintain his weight, Ms Leow would often tell him jokes to cheer him up and distract him from the nausea.
It worked and, to her surprise, her son started coming up with his own jokes.
“They were a lot better than mine … mine were a bit lame,” she said with a laugh.
“Throughout his treatment, he was constantly telling jokes. For him, it was a very good distraction as it gave him something to focus on,” she said. “It also helped to cheer all of us up too.”
Next to her, Aaron beams proudly as he holds up a gold trophy with two shooting stars.
“Mama, I got an award, but I don’t know what I won,” he said, giggling.
Laughing, she tells him that it was an award from the Children’s Cancer Foundation for completing his treatment.
Aaron ended his treatment in July 2020 and has been in remission for two years.
However, his love for puns and jokes remains.
“I feel like he became more cheerful and happy-go-lucky after his treatment,” said Ms Leow. “Previously, he had a hard time because we used to live in the US and when we moved back to Singapore he had quite a hard time adjusting here.”
While undergoing chemotherapy, Aaron also came up with a list of things he wanted to do after completing treatment. They include writing and publishing a book with his mother and siblings as well as helping other children with cancer.
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