A mother who lost three children to terminal illnesses has opened up about the devastating decision to tell her 10-year-old son he was recovering when in reality he was returning home to die.
Gheuwan Arja, 41, from the Sydney suburb of Greenacre, watched in anguish as his son Omar smiled happily as he rang a hospital bell to signal he had completed his cancer treatment.
The mother-of-five has revealed she told the ‘white lie’ to spare her son the pain of knowing he only had weeks to live after six months of grueling chemotherapy and 18 surgeries in a row of a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The mother-of-five said she couldn’t bring herself to tell her 10-year-old he was going to die
The aggressive cancer attacks the lymph nodes, part of the body’s immune system.
Ms Arja said it was “one of the worst days of her life lying to him” in a TikTok video.
“How do you tell your child they are going home to spend their last days with their family?” she captioned the video.
Heartbreaking footage shows the boy sitting in a wheelchair and ringing the bell at the hospital.
Medical staff applaud off camera as Ms Arja explains why to stand behind her son.
She is seen wiping a tear from her eye as her son smiles from his wheelchair.
Omar, 10, died in January 2022.
She never told her son that he was battling cancer, or that he had also battled a brain tumor earlier in his young life.
Instead, she told him he was battling an ear infection.
The decision was forged by bitter experience after watching two of her other children suffer and die of terminal illnesses.
Ms Arja, a devout Muslim, has revealed her eldest daughter, Aisha, was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called Neiman Pick Type C.
The disease causes cholesterol and other fats to build up in the liver, spleen, or lungs, which eventually spreads to the brain.
Aisha died aged four in 2009.
Gheuwan Arja said it was “one of the worst days of her life” when she lied to her son Omar telling him he had completed his treatment.
“It was devastating and my whole world came crashing down,” Ms Arja wrote in a Good launch Fundraising.
“But I knew Allah had a plan, and I had to accept it. Then, in 2019, my third son, Mohamed, was diagnosed with a brain tumor that we didn’t know existed.
“He showed symptoms of a stroke and we rushed him to hospital. But it was too late.
“Mohamed died after just two weeks. It was a heartbreaking experience and I felt like I had lost everything.
Mohamed died almost ten years to the day after Aïcha.
The family then dealt a third devastating blow when their fourth son, Omar, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in July 2021.
He died in January of the following year.
Ms Arja and her husband Fadi, 48, have two surviving children, Rabieh, 16, and Luay, eight.
The mother, who has hitherto raised over $16,000 to take her eldest son to Mecca, wants other parents to know that “life goes on”.
“Don’t give up on life. You go through things in life but life is still beautiful,’ she said 7News.
“You want your kids to fight for life – how dare you give up on life. Don’t – that’s how I see it.
“If my son fought for his life, how dare I give up mine.”