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April 01, 2012

Every Day Heroes

Long time readers know that my nephew spent two years of his life in the hospital before losing his battle with leukemia. That may be why this story seems so miraculous to me:

Superhero visits to hospitals let kids be kids in a scary, adult place, but the activities are indeed therapeutic, too, the chief doctor on the cancer floor told me.

“These visits provide an immediate boost for these kids,”said Jeffrey Dome, the oncology division chief at Children’s. “Some of these children have to stay for weeks or months at a time. That wears down the children and it wears down the family. You have to keep up morale. A visit from a superhero is sort of like a fantasy in the middle of all this hard-core therapy.”

As Batman wandered around from child to child, I asked him, “Isn’t this hard?”

His children are healthy. My children are healthy.

“We are very lucky,” he said. “All I can say is we are very, very lucky.”

The party began winding down. Spider-Man changed out of his costume. Wonder Woman changed out of hers. They said goodbye to Batman, still working the floor, as he posed for a photo with a patient’s father. The father thanked Batman and said, “I saw you on the news — Route 29.”

“I think everyone saw me on Route 29,” Batman acknowledged. He asked the nurses at the front desk whether there were any children who couldn’t come out of their rooms to see him.

Assured that there weren’t, Batman headed back down to his Batmobile, followed by the mother of a baby girl with cancer and her healthy 4-year-old son, whose only goal in life at that moment was to see the Batmobile. When the boy saw the car, I thought his eyeballs were going to separate from his body. (Batman is actually in the process of having a just-like-the-movies Batmobile built for $250,000, but it’s not ready yet.)

Batman revved the engines and blasted the audio system — the Batman theme song. Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, Batman! He revved the engine some more. The little boy didn’t want to say goodbye, but his mom told him, “Batman needs to go fight the bad guys.”

The little boy cried.

“I want to go help him fight the bad guys,” he said.

His mom said, “You need to go help your sister fight cancer.”

Posted by Cassandra at April 1, 2012 08:31 PM

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