Warning: Grey’s Anatomy Spoilers (neuroblastoma case)

Last night’s “Grey’s Anatomy” was… good, as a whole. But I’m just going to dissect the childhood cancer storyline.  The episode was subtitled “Hope for the Hopeless.” and the neuroblastoma patient was an 11-year-old boy named Wes (I follow a little boy named Wes on facebook who has neuroblastoma and who has just been declared NED – No Evidence of Disease!) whose mother was lying to him about why they were at the hospital.  I like the fact that it was mentioned on the show that neuroblastoma is more often present in younger kids – kids younger than Wes.  Wes’ mom hadn’t told him he has cancer – his back hurt really bad and she just told him that the doctors were going to fix it.  Wes still had his hair and he didn’t look chemo-ravished, which was disappointing to me.  Derek – Dr. Shepherd – didn’t even want to take the case… he said there was a less than 5 percent chance he could remove the tumor, and he told the other doctor on the case – Dr. Lexie Grey – to flip a coin to help them decide what to do.  Really?  Yes, yes, I realize that this is a TV show and Dr. Shepherd does not exist outside of “Grey’s Anatomy,” but…  really?  Flipping a coin to help you decide whether or not to operate on a patient – especially a child – whose life depends on it is just callous.  Worse than callous, even.  That was a HUGE mistake on the part of the show.

Lexie soon found out that Wes did know about his tumor, despite his mom thinking otherwise.  He had overheard some doctors talking about his case at the last hospital he was at.  He couldn’t tell his mom he knew because it’d break her heart.  Lexie told him that she has been working with Dr. Shepherd for a while now, and that he was the best at what he did (man, if these doctors were only real…).  So they opened him up, poked around a bit, and then Dr. Shepherd decided that the 5% chance just became 0% and ordered them to close.  Lexie protested twice, saying she had promised that they’d try.  Derek ordered her to leave the operating room, which she did only after glaring at him.

The next and final scene of this storyline was a cryfest, of course.  The mother finds out Wes knows that he has cancer, and isn’t afraid to die because then, he will be with his daddy in heaven.

If the patient had been younger than 11, I would’ve probably been okay with the mother not telling him about his cancer.  I mean, do you think my parents told me?  Of course not!  I was a baby.  They didn’t have the words.  But when a child is older, like “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Wes, it just doesn’t make sense to me.  Kids pick up on things, and as they get older, it’s really hard to hide things from them, especially something as serious as cancer.  And if parents don’t tell them what they need to know, the kids will pick it up from some other source.  I am not a parent, and will never be in this lifetime; however, if I were a kid of 11 or 12, and found out that I had cancer from anyone other than my parents, I’d be very upset.  But perhaps Wes couldn’t afford to be mad, had no time or energy or whatever.  I’d buy that.  And I’ll say one more thing:  what I really liked about this episode is that they didn’t have a miracle cure for neuroblastoma.  This cancer is a seriously horrible disease, and if they cured it on television before they cured it in real life, well, that wouldn’t sit well with us either.  TV doctors are just that, TV doctors, and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise.


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