His eyes were wide and near tears. He is a pre-teen boy who I first saw when he was a 3 year-old. He said, “I can’t talk about it. If I talk about it I will have to run out the door.”

The kids, I see, however, are not typically good at keeping their thoughts to themselves. I waited for less than a second and he talked about it. He talked about it a lot. His mother was diagnosed with cancer last fall. He hates that his mother’s chemotherapy makes her so sick. He blamed her oncologist. I told him that a lot of people feel that way but explained how the drugs work and their side effects.

At one point he said, “The side effects of cancer treatment have affected my behavior and my attitude.” He also noted that his mother is less patient when she is sick from chemotherapy and observed, “I’m a person who needs people to be very patient with me.”

This wonderful boy has wonderful parents. He has a unique set of challenges and strengths. He works hard to help himself and his parents work hard to support him. Cancer does not give anyone a pass. And it doesn’t give our children, even the most vulnerable among us, a pass.

The more time I spend with cancer in my life, the more I re-encounter my friend, Nancy’s statement, “Cancer has tentacles. It affects many people.”