This month (September) is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. What a sad thing that we have to have a month for such an awful disease. Wouldn’t it be great if we could eradicate this disease and not have a month for it?
The truth is, I was very unfamiliar with childhood cancer. That big “C” word really never entered my life until five years ago, when my sister at the age of 67 was diagnosed with cancer and died three months later. She was an adult. Her illness and death turned my world upside-down.
I journaled during this time. This is part of what I wrote:
My sister is very ill Her cancer is in her liver and instead of getting better, she is sicker day by day. Want to feel helpless in this world? Be around a very sick person. I sit in her hospital room and she sleeps. Just sleeps. Her face is red with fever. She opens her eyes for seconds and then falls back asleep, and I sit there wondering what I could do to make her feel better, to make her well. And there is nothing. So I visit with her husband and chat, and go to my laptop and read or write, but concentrating is not easy. Nurses come in and out. They change the infusion bags. I watched 2 units of life-giving blood go into her veins, but I don’t see more life. I see a big brown bag of something, dripping into her–the chemotherapy drugs. It will be hanging there for 24 hours. Big bags of fluid and little bags of specialized meds and antibiotics flow into her veins. And yet she still sleeps.
The tears well up when I see so many hurdles. It aches in my chest. All I can do is sit there for hours, go home exhausted, as if I just ran a marathon. Sleep comes easy. I’m too tired to think of anything else.
This is a good time for me to get in my “God Spot.” That very spot where I know I am completely loved by the creator of the universe. How awesome is that? He loves me completely. He loves my sister completely. He holds us all in his arms. I close my eyes and I feel his loving arms around me. I feel the comfort he gives. Is my sister suffering? Yes, she is. But I must not forget that Christ suffered to death. He knows pain, he knows suffering. He understands, and not only does he hold me in his arms, he holds her in his arms. See the scars? He suffered. He knows. He loves.
Tears flow. My breathing stops for a second. I don’t know her pain. I don’t know Christ’s pain. I only know my pain. If feels so selfish. I am here. I am waking up, eating, walking, talking, seeing my family, seeing my friends. I am having good days and bad days, I am experiencing life, and it all seems so selfish right now. Yet, God knows. He says that is okay–he loves me in my weakness and in my strength. And I need to feel his loving arms right now.
This time was so hard, and yet I cannot imagine what it would be like to be a parent watching their young child go through this awful disease.
Did you know that:
- Forty-six (46) children are diagnosed everyday with cancer in the United States?
- One (1) in five (5) of these children will not beat the disease?
- The average age for cancer diagnosis in a child is 6 years old?
- One (1) in 285 children will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 20?
- Most of the drugs used in fighting their cancer are over 20 years old?
- More U.S. children are lost to cancer than any other disease?
- Every day seven (7) children in the U.S. die from cancer?
- One (1) in 333 girls and one (1) in 300 boys in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer this year?
- Less than 4% of the National Cancer Institutes’ funding supports research of childhood cancer?
I am searching for statistics. I went to the American Cancer Society’s website and found a link to a Powerpoint presentation of 2017 statistics. It’s 22 pages plus a cover page—only one page discusses childhood cancer.
Why do I know all this today?
Four years ago I moved to Fulton, Missouri. Shortly after moving there I met a neighbor and we chatted. I asked her about all my neighbors. She told me that the little boy who lived next door to me had been diagnosed with cancer and his family was out of town so he could get treatment. That little boy was Sam. I never met Sam. He did not win his battle with cancer.
Sam had a twin sister named Ava, and a mom and dad, Cassie and Matt. This family loved this little boy completely. Sam was an inspiration to his family. When they would say their prayers at night, Sam always wanted to pray for the other children. He was always more concerned about the other kids in the hospital, that they would feel comforted.
Cassie and Matt promised him they would also “Help All the Kids in Children’s Hospital to feel better.” Today they run the Super Sam Foundation. They raise money to provide comfort packs for sick children, their siblings, and their parents. They also raise money for childhood cancer research. The Super Sam Foundation sponsors an annual 5k in Fulton, Missouri and the annual Super Sam Gala in Columbia, Missouri.
I was blind to the struggles of these children and their families who go through this cancer journey. I know how hard it was for me to lose a sister in her 60’s. I cannot fathom the loss of a child. I can only hope and pray for these kids . . . and do what I can financially to help foundations such as the Super Sam Foundation accomplish the goal of “helping all the kids.”
What can we do? Pray for “all the kids.” Pray for their families. This disease has turned their world upside-down. Start learning about childhood cancer. Donate to a fund that helps these kids. Volunteer our time. Love on all of them.