Tag Archives: childhood cancer

Children with Cancer

Being 70 years old, I see a lot of friends becoming sick.  I recently wrote about losing so many of my classmates.  Although this is sad, nothing bothers me more than hearing about children who are critically ill.

I have been very fortunate that there has been very little major illness in the children in my family and extended family.  I have a nephew, when he was 18 months old, contracted spinal meningitis, was in the hospital for an extended period of time, in very grave condition.  When he recovered, it was discovered that this illness had robbed him completely of his hearing.  He became profoundly deaf.  I know that at first this was quite a challenge for my sister and her family.  He just turned 50 years old this month, and although, he cannot hear, he is a healthy person with a career in IT, married, and the father of five children.  That was the most of any serious childhood illnesses that hit our family.

SAMSIn 2013, I married Dennis and moved to Fulton, Missouri.  Shortly after our marriage, I attended a neighborhood meeting.  One of the neighbors told me that the family next door to me had a child who had been diagnosed with cancer, and they were out of town for his treatment.  I never met Sam.  He passed away from this dreadful disease in 2014.  During Sam’s many hospital stays, he was always focused on the other children in the hospital.  This boy had such a tender heart.  He always prayed for them, and he wanted them to be comfortable.  After his death, his mom, dad, and twin sister start a foundation called, Super Sam Foundation, for fighting childhood cancer.  This sweet family, who just wanted to live a “normal” life, became the catalyst for a foundation that comfort packssupplied comfort packs for sick children, their siblings, and their parents, because it was Sam’s wish to take care of “all the kids.”  Not only that, this small family from this small town, won the hearts of the community and the surrounding communities.  They sponsored a 5k and 1 mile fun run, golf tournaments, corn hole tournaments, and an annual Hope Gala.  The foundation has raised money to actually fund research for childhood cancer.  It is an ongoing issue because not much funding is going to find a cure for childhood cancer.  The foundation annually goes to Washington D.C. to meet with legislators to encourage them to raise the amount of money used for childhood cancer research.

This was new to me.  Through their Facebook page, I read about family after family in mid Missouri, all over the state, and even farther out, of so many children being diagnosed with cancer.  It is hard to read these postings of children in the fight, of parents doing everything they can do to get their child treated, and hoping and praying that their child can be healed.

ribbonIt is heartbreaking to see the the postings of children who have “earned their wings.”  They did not survive this terrible disease.  It is heartbreaking to read about a child who was in remission, to have the cancer return, and return with a vengeance.

I just had no idea that so many children, and so many families were having their lives turned upside-down because of this terrible disease.  Why are so many children getting this disease? When an older person gets cancer, our addle brains think that over the years they have lived in a hazardous area, or smoked, or had some high risk behavior that may have caused this.  But . . .  children?  They aren’t walking around smoking, or living a high risk life.  They are playing with their siblings and friends, going to school, and enjoying life as a child.  Then, BOOM!  They are healthy . . . until they are no longer healthy.

I don’t have answers.  I wish I did.  I do know we live in a broken world, and everything is broken.  So, people get sick, bad things happen everywhere, and I know that this earth is not my permanent home—my permanent home will be in God’s presence for eternity.  There will be no more sickness, danger, or death.  But for now, those things still happen.  



There is not much I can do.  The best I can do is help fund organizations like the Super Sam Foundation.  Five years later, the Santuff family is still fighting for “all the kids.”  What am I doing to help this fight?  What are you doing?  I do know this family is stronger today than they were 6 years ago.  But they are strong without one of their loved ones.  That shouldn’t happen.  

The other day I opened my Facebook account, and the Super Sam


Sam & Ava

Foundation had a post on their Facebook page, of which I am a follower.  Today posted was a paper that Sam’s twin sister, Ava, wrote about Sam.  I don’t know if it was a paper she wrote for school, or just one she wrote because it was on her heart.  It is a love story about Sam, and his super powers, and that in the end he is healthy in the presence of God.  It is probably one of the sweetest things I have read in a long time.  This girl is only eleven years old.  I cannot wait to read her book when she is an adult—she writes so well, and can teach us so much.  I got permission to post her paper.  Please read it.  Please think about how you want to fight this evil disease.  Please pray for all the kids and the families that are in the fight today, and really pray for those families who have a hole in their family with the loss of their child.  Here is Ava’s paper:

“Live On”

A Tall, yet all too real, Tale written by: Ava


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Sam & Ava

There was once a great evil. It was almighty and everlasting. There was also a fun-loving, and pure hearted little boy, Sam. He was a normal boy, with a mom, dad, a twin sister, and a big family that loved him very much.

One day he was on an adventure, gathering black berries for his family. When he came home in his lightning fast race car he noticed he had something in his nose. He thought it was just a big booger, but it was nothing close to it. It was the evil. A shard of the evil had gotten into his nose.

After a couple days his family had decided to take him to see a wizard that would be able to help him with the shard of evil. The wizard told the boy that he had that shard of evil running through his body. He was very lucky though, because he had been brought in very early and that he was going to be okay.

The small but strong boy went into a room were a group of wizards would try to remove the shard from his nose.



Once he came out, he was good and healthy. It was all good again, and everything was normal again… until everything wasn’t.

He had found that the evil had spread to his bones. It was the start of the Great War, Good vs Evil. It would be Sam against the great evil that was lurking within him.

Sam had been in the battle for a couple months now. He was very strong and courageous. He also had friends, sidekicks, and his twin sister to help him fight. As if the fight wasn’t hard enough, the poison killing the evil was also killing his hair and energy.

1 Super Sam FSam had many superpowers. About half way through the war Sam had obtained the nickname of “Super Sam”. He was so smart he could solve any equation. His strength was incredible, he had the ability to lift up houses, buildings, and juggle them in the sky while flying. But the best super power he had was his ability to make his twin sister clean his room for him.

Super Sam was fighting so hard, he swinging his sword of blue flaming lightning, and it could slice through a great white shark like cutting paper with scissors. And firing his arrows that were so sharp they could shoot through twelve mountains. But it wasn’t enough. The evil had a secret weapon though, it was a snake, it was the size of a worm with venom that could kill armies and armies of men. It was invincible. But Sam had a way about him that was so stubborn that he wouldn’t let the worm sized snake win the Great War.

Ava w: signHe had beaten it. The pure hearted, strong and kind boy had won it. But it took such a great deal of energy to swing his sword of flaming lightning that he had to retreat back to the one he loves most, God. Super Sam was a hero to all who have known him. Sam was so strong and powerful and he was such a good person he deserved to go to a place with no suffering or pain, only joy and happiness.

And as for me, Sam’s twin sister, I can say that the Great War of 2014 was terrifying, but Sam was so brave and strong he rightfully won it. And now he deserves to be drinking orange smoothies and eating boxes and boxes of plain cheese pizza. Though my one minute younger brother went up upon the stars unlike I had expected, he still will always be in my heart. So live on Super Sam.

I hope this doesn’t seem shocking to you, but there are just too many kids suffering with this awful disease called cancer.  It needs to be stopped in its tracks.  I am grateful to the Santuff family for their commitment to fighting childhood cancer, and for being a source of encouragement to families going through this journey.

How can you help?

  • Pray for these kids.
  • Pray for these families, parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
  • Donate if you can to some organization that helps fund research and care.  If you don’t know one, try the Super Sam Foundation.

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For All The Kids

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?

me judy 2

The last photo I have with my sister.

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.

IMG_3026Why 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 0 twinscompletely. 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 0 Comfort Packfor 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.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13