Doctor Shares What Dying Children Wished They Could Have Done More

February 3, 2018 Updated: October 5, 2018

Alastair McAlpine is a paediatrician from Cape Town, South Africa. He works at Paedspal Cape Town, a program that cares for children with life-threatening and terminal illnesses.

On Thursday, Feb. 1, he decided to ask his patients about life and the responses he got went viral.

“I asked some of my terminal pediatric palliative care patients what they had enjoyed in life, and what gave it meaning,” he tweeted. “Kids can be so wise, y’know. Here are some of the responses (Thread).”

First, he shared what nobody wanted more of, like TV or Facebook.

“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,” he tweeted.

One recurring theme was animals – many children shared their fondness for their pets.

“I love Rufus, his funny bark makes me laugh,” one patient told him.

“I love when Ginny snuggles up to me at night and purrs,” another said.

“I was happiest riding Jake on the beach,” yet another said.

All the children also loved books and hearing stories, especially from their parents.

“Folks, read to your kids! They love it,” McAlpine wrote.

Many children also “wished they had spent less time worrying about what others thought of them, and valued people who just treated them ‘normally,’” McAlpine said.

“My real friends didn’t care when my hair fell out,” one patient said.

“Jane came to visit after the surgery and didn’t even notice the scar!” another said.

Many were also worried for others, especially their parents.

“Hope mum will be ok. She seems sad,” one said.

“Dad mustn’t worry. He’ll see me again soon,” another said.

“God will take care of my mum and dad when I’m gone,” yet another said.

McAlpine also noticed the children valued kindness.

“My granny is so kind to me. She always makes me smile,” one patient told him.

“Jonny gave me half his sandwich when I didn’t eat mine. That was nice,” another said.

“I like it when that kind nurse is here. She’s gentle. And it hurts less,” yet another said.

The children were also very fond of people who made them laugh, be it a magician, or a dad making funny faces.

The children liked their favorite toys and superheroes (Batman was the winner), and trips to the beach.

Finally, all the children valued the time with their families.

“Mum and dad are the best!” one patient said.

“My sister always hugs me tight” another said.

“No one loves me like mummy loves me!” yet another said.

And the take home message?

“Be kind. Read more books. Spend time with your family. Crack jokes. Go to the beach. Hug your dog. Tell that special person you love them.

“These are the things these kids wished they could’ve done more. The rest is details.

Oh… and eat ice-cream.”

 

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