A Doctor Asked Terminally Ill Kids What Really Matters in Life. Here's What They Said


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What's really important to kids? What makes them feel loved and special, and what do they truly value in their lives? Those are the questions palliative pediatrician Alastair McAlpine set out to answer when he did an assignment that required him to ask terminally ill kids what gave their lives meaning.

  • McAlpine shared the responses he got from the kids in a heartbreaking and inspiring thread on Twitter.

    Since it was posted, the thread has been retweeted more than 60,000 times. McAlpine, who is from Cape Town, South Africa, noted the answers all came from kids between the ages of 4 and 9.

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  • First, the doctor noted that none of the kids wished they'd spent more time with their electronics.

    In a separate tweet, he also noted that many of the kids said they wished they'd spent less time worrying about what other people thought of them. "My real friends didn't care when my hair fell out," one noted.

    Similarly, many valued the people who do care about them and treat them "normally." McAlpine recalled one child saying, "Jane came to visit after surgery and didn't even notice the scar!"

  • Loved ones were a running theme on the kids' lists of the most important things in life, and that included their pets.

    Many of the kids' happiest memories were of time spent with loved ones and things they did together. But many also expressed worry or concern for their parents. "Hope mum will be okay. She seems sad," one told McAlpine. Another said, "Dad mustn't worry. He'll see me again soon."

  • Adorably, McAlpine noted that every single kid loved ice cream.

    No surprises there.

  • And many of them loved books and toys, especially when they got to enjoy them with their parents.

  • Above everything, kids most valued the people in their lives and how those people made them feel.

  • The main takeaway, says McAlpine, is enjoy every minute of your life and spend as much time as you can with the ones you love.

    These kids wished they had more time for laughter, fun, hugs, stories. They didn't care about having the coolest gadgets or the biggest wardrobe, attending the fanciest school, or being the best and brightest. And even though it's our instinct as parents to strive for perfection when it comes to raising our kids, this Twitter thread is an important reminder that at the end of the day, the connections we share with our families are what matter the most.

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