Monday, September 28, 2009
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month, and as a way to help raise awareness, I wanted to share a story of at least one child affected by this horrible disease. I've written before about my friend's child, Braeden, who recently passed away from Neuroblastoma. Now I want to introduce you to Baby Reef, a baby with Acute Lymphoblastic (sometimes known as Lymphocytic) Leukemia, which is a cancer of the white blood cells.
I could tell you what I know, but I thought it would be best if someone close to Reef told his story in their own words. Here is what Reef's grandmother wrote, in her own words:
"Baby Reef was diagnosed with ALL at the age of 5 months. A seemingly normal, healthy baby, who, at his 6 monthly checkup was diagnosed and sent immediately to the pediatric oncology unit. I cannot begin to explain the complete and utter devastation to our family. Reef is our only grandchild and a joy to anyone who has met him. He has smiled his way through 7 months of grueling chemotherapy and now, at the age of 11 months is in total isolation having his bone marrow killed off in readiness for a bone marrow transplant (this took place on 8th September, 2009).
This precious little baby has been through renal failure and dialysis, seizures, infections, port insertion and now Hickman and central line insertion. He has been admitted to I.C.U. three times in his short life and this has been the worst emotional roller coaster any family could go through.
All the brave little cancer victims we have made contact with through the many hospitals Reef has been in have touched our very souls. All the parents having the same expression of hope, misery, hurt and expectation in their eyes, all understanding just what the other is going through.
Please pray for this little angel."
I also wanted to share the letter Reef's Uncle and Godfather wrote about him:
“Faith in the face of adversity” was the first thing I had inked into my flesh. It popped into my head, whilst doodling. And I thought nothing of it but I knew I needed to make it a part of myself. I don’t think I had fully appreciated the full extent of the commitment I was making to myself, to God, to you.
I stand here on the precipice of tragedy clinging to hope, holding strong to my faith.
Nothing has touched my soul more then the feeling of holding you in my arms and seeing you smile at me. It is something etched into the core of my being.
But the words that crept from behind a pair of tight cold lips, one normal Friday afternoon in a badly lit hospital ward, have forever changed me. 33 days ago I was locked out of your life with only images of you smiling at me behind the glass of my cell phone. Days ran into days, and as they did the images I received transformed, as one by one the pipes and tubes were removed to reveal the child I saw enter that isolated dark place.
A week ago, I got to hold you. You smile at me. You laugh and hide your head under that little blanket, pulling it off, smiling thumping your feet, but there is lead that runs through my veins and into my already heavy heart. That behind that beautiful smile rests something I cant fix, something I cant change.
I can’t let them see I am affected. I am told I need to be strong. The sound of your mobile brings me to my knees. The soft chimes echo in my head coupled with the thought of my big brother singing happy birthday to a boy I love, as he turns 6 months old, behind the closed door of a ward. You are wheeled off to have marrow extracted from your already scarred tiny body. One day when the other children ask you where you got the marks from, they won’t know what it took to get there.
This is not the end, I wish I could put my hand on you tell you the pain will stop, that all will be ok. But I cant. The road is long and you have taught me so much without being able to say a word.
As i write this i know, remission is only the beginning, you are almost there if not there already. But it means the doors will close again and I will see you through the glass of my phone for years to come. Will you remember me when this is done? Will I be a person you would want to know? Will you still smile? I don’t know if I will be able to keep the promise I made you when that needle cut the commitment into my skin but I know now that when I did it, I did it for you, even though you were not yet with me.
Reef I Love You. I will see you again a long time from now, not as just a beautiful face behind a tiny piece of glass. I will be able to give you my hand and I will show you all you could not see from the room you will have spent so many days in and that is one promise I will keep."
There are so many other children like Reef and Braeden. 36 more kids will be diagnosed with cancer today, 36 more tomorrow...and the next day, and the next, and the next. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.
**If you want an easy way to help, go to Chili's Bar and Grill today, September 28, for lunch, dinner or even just a snack. 100% of the profits will go to St. Jude's Children's Hospital to help fun childhood cancer research.****