Fathers and sons: a family’s struggle with childhood cancer in Uganda

Late-afternoon sunlight slips through the leaves of a jackfruit tree, splashing across the red-dirt playground.

Outside, motorbikes and pedestrians bustle by in Uganda’s largest city. Sometimes, Kampala’s noise creeps over the walls of the Bless A Child Foundation. But the playground is mostly quiet now. Just the groaning of a well-worn swing and a small boy pumping back and forth, back and forth.

Soon, the 5-year-old slides off the swing and wanders over to his father, sitting nearby. The older man moves onto the swing and carefully lifts the thin child onto his lap. As they begin to swing together, a small smile flashes across the little boy’s face.

For the last two years, it’s always been this way: father and son, father and son. The rest of the family waits patiently in their mountain village far to the east.

It’s been a mostly good day. The boy wanted to play and so he gave his gap-toothed laugh over and over.

But it never lasts.

Follow James Michael’s struggle with his son’s pediatric cancer in this special report.

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