Sunday, June 3, 2012

Childhood Cancer Awareness

Well, I know some of you are going to think I'm ungrateful and should stop whining with this post...just be grateful for what I have, and shut up!  But I can't.  I really can't.  Right now, as I type, Sammy is putting together his Millennium Falcon Lego set all by himself and looks adorable with his shaggy long blonde hair and unfairly long eyelashes.  At school the other day, he swung from the monkey bars, showing off his latest accomplishment, hanging upside down and then pulling his own body weight up with his new-found upper body strength.  It is like cancer never happened...except it did...and Sammy is a normal boy again.

But...and this is where you may want to tell me to shut up moaning...if I hear one more person tell me I can put cancer behind me, move on, and try to forget about it all, I may just punch them!  A little harsh I know, but here is why I can never forget or put it all behind me:

Yesterday was my anniversary.  I did not spend it with my family, but at CHAM 9. Yes, many of you will remember that is the floor the cancer children go to for treatment and for neutropenia/infections/complications etc.  It is not the day clinic.  It is the floor Sammy spent most of his first year on, mainly because his body was so ravaged by the chemo, he was constantly neutropenic.

I was not at CHAM 9 with Sammy,  He doesn't even know I was there because I was visiting G, Sammy's cancer buddy.  The little boy who had the same leukemia as Sam and had the same treatment.  He was our guide as he started treatment a couple of months before.  He got better and showed us how great being done is.  Now he sits in CHAM waiting for his counts (ANC) to get above zero.  He is neutropenic from the chemo of his new protocol. He has relapsed and needs a bone marrow transplant.  He has leukemia again.

As I stepped out of G's room to give his some privacy for a moment, I noticed the mom of a very special 4 year old standing by the nurses station.  S has a brain tumor.  She has had surgery and probably needs another as only 2/3 of her tumor could be removed.  She has a scar on her bald head from ear to ear.  She is doing well but her cancer is very rare so everything is unknown.  There are no statistics to comfort her parents.  Not that anyone can go by that as G shows.

I know S and her family through the wonderful families at school.  It was her mom's cousin who helped organize all the SuperSammy t.shirts for his fundraiser.  Now she has made up the same shirt, in a different color, for S.

We try to make cancer go away for Jack and Sam.  I know it will be with them forever because it was such a traumatic time in their lives.  However, they deserve to put it behind them and live happily ever after.

As adults, we can do the same.  But how can we ignore G and S?  How can the faces of those who lost their battle ever leave our memories....and why should they?  We honor them by fighting to end cancer.  We honor Sammy by fighting to end cancer, even if he never experiences it again.  We cannot turn away.  We know too much.

Awareness is key.  The more people who know about childhood cancer (any kind; I am way beyond just leukemia now), the better.  Not because they might donate money to a cancer charity which conducts research (although it helps) but because they might tell a few people and raise awareness too.

I am not asking for anyone to live with daily thoughts about children with cancer.  I am hoping more people come to understand how 49 children are diagnosed each day in this country, and 7 will die.  Then, maybe they won't tell me I can forget about it all and move on.  Maybe they will ask how they can help children with cancer because they realize I may well know what they can do!

Here is Sammy's Team page for his Walk for the Cure.  If you would like to join his team, make a small donation, or pass it on to friends, you will be helping to make the difference and save lives.

Team SuperSammy


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