kids

Pediatrician Asks Terminally Ill Kids What Gives Life Meaning And Their Answers Are Sob-Worthy

by Ileana Paules-Bronet
Ileana is a writer on the Original Content team. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Alastair McAlpine, a South African pediatrician, recently took on an assignment while speaking with his terminally ill patients about their lives.

The pediatrician has one of the hardest jobs out there: caring for dying children. Palliative care is always challenging, but pediatric palliative care can be absolutely devastating.

Parents never want to outlive their children, but Alastair sees them go through that — time and time again.

Although working with terminally ill children might sound like our worst nightmare, Alastair knows it’s the right job for him. The kids he works with really inspire him.

When he asked the children what gave life meaning and what they cared about most, he was moved by their answers. He also shared them on Twitter.

Within just four days, the series of tweets garnered a ton of attention. The initial tweet got over 150,000 likes and over 93,000 retweets.

Photos: Twitter 1, 2 / AlastairMcA30; Pexels / Julie Viken

Alastair McAlpine is a palliative care pediatrician in Cape Town, South Africa.

He works with terminally ill children as they approach the end of their lives.

Alastair shared a long list about what the kids felt was most important in life.

He wrote:

First:
NONE said they wished they’d watched more TV
NONE said they should’ve spent more time on Face Book
NONE said they enjoyed fighting with others
NONE enjoyed hospital
/1

Of course, lots of the children mentioned their family, friends, and pets.

And even though they’re only kids, a lot of them had some pretty serious worries — not about death, but about how their parents would cope when they’re gone.

And, of course, some of their favorite parts about life were less serious — like dessert.

“ALL of them loved ice-cream,” he wrote.

hospital girl

The kids all told Alastair that they loved stories.

Fantasy worlds that allowed them to escape their hospital beds were some of their favorites.

And they all loved their friends, especially those who never treated them differently.

Alastair explained:

MANY wished they had spent less time worrying about what others thought of them, and valued people who just treated them ‘normally’.
‘My real friends didn’t care when my hair fell out.’
‘Jane came to visit after the surgery and didn’t even notice the scar!’

doctor girl

Vacations were another big hit among the children, especially when they got to go to the beach.

Being outside in general is something kids love, but there’s something even more special about feeling the sand between your toes and hearing the waves hit the shore.

While adults focus on a number of traits in people, like intelligence, attractiveness, quick wit, the kids just cared about one thing: niceness.

Of course, they also appreciated a good sense of humor — because what kid doesn’t love to laugh?

Toys were another thing all the kids loved. Just because they’re terminally ill, it doesn’t mean they don’t like having fun.

Of course, you can guess what was most important to the children: their parents and siblings.

These children are truly incredible, and they have such positive outlooks on life, even though they won’t be able to experience as much as they’d want to.

We can all learn a lesson from these little ones, who are clearly wise beyond their years.

hospital bed

Please SHARE this article with your friends if you were inspired by what the kids had to say!