Hi! My name is Anthony Paul Chiarelli. I am eight years old. I've had medicine since January of 1996 to get rid of leukemia. I was in the hospital for about a month and a half (a very long time) so that I could start getting treatment, and then I was able to go home. When I went back to school, two of the nurses from the clinic came with me to explain my illness. They brought some dolls with them so that everyone could understand, and they even showed the kids the needles that I got. They said that leukemia was not contagious, so that the kids would understand they couldn't catch it. The students were really nice to me, and were happy to see me back. They asked lots of questions, like "how did you get leukemia, why are your cheeks so fat and what happened to all of your hair." The teacher was really nice, too, in the first grade.
When I started grade two in September, my mother came to class the first week to explain to the students what I had. To tell you the truth, the students were not as nice to me in the second grade. Some of the kids called me "fat cheeks" and "blow up boy". It especially hurt me, but I tried to ignore it. One of the boys who teased me had leukemia about three years ago. My dad says he doesn't think the boy really means it, but is doing it because of peer pressure. But even though they make fun of me, I still like to go to school. My teacher is very nice to me and acts like everything is OK.
When I was too tired from the treatments to go to school, it was hard for me. I miss going to school and doing all of the fun stuff. Sometimes when I go back after a week I feel out of place because the students are doing some activity that I never got a chance to start. My teacher helps, though, by giving my mother a lot of stuff to take home. I'll tell you, if I had magic powers, I'd try to make a drug that makes leukemia disappear. I think I'd also stay in Disneyworld my whole life!
Here's a new picture of me...
With my wonderful dog
Now I'm in third grade and school hasn't been that good. First of all this year I started out in a portable classroom. I got sick over and over and nobody knew why. Then we heard something on the news that these types of rooms have mold in them. Besides that, whenever I needed to go into the school to go to the washroom in the winter, the cold air would hit me and I'd get colds really easily. So my mom and dad decided to take me out of the portable room and enroll me in another classroom. That meant that I had to move in with the grade 5 class since they were inside the school.
Now here's the worst part. The kids in my original class don't always let me play with them. If they are playing a game or sports or something at recces they never pass the ball to me or sometimes they won't even let me play. They do that because I can't run as fast as I used to because of the chemo. It seems like all they care about
is winning. Once I brought a soccer ball to school hoping that they would play with me. They took my ball and didn't want me to play. It was MY ball and they said I couldn't play. When I tried to take the ball away from them, they just pushed me away and didn't give it back until the end of the day.
My favorite things to do are to build legos, to ride my bike, and to play on my computer. What about you? Well, thank you for visiting my page!
Joan Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York
Last updated: October 27, 2004