Note: I am posting this week's Gonzo Mama column a couple days early, in order to help publicize the opportunity to help a young local cancer patient this weekend at the rodeo.
One of my e-friends, Mindi Finch, posted this tweet on Twitter: “Words that sound normal to us, but not others: ‘Go ahead and unhook yourself.’” She was referring to her son’s Gastric Tube (G-Tube).
Four-year-old Gregory Bibb is battling Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia (JMML), and his mom, Mindi, is chronicling his journey at http://thegreginator.livejournal.com. In addition to caring for Gregory’s extensive medical needs, Mindi makes time each day to connect with and advocate for families facing childhood cancer.
I thank the Lord that the most unusual phrases heard in our home are “Stop licking the dog” and “The toilet plunger is not a toy,” but I remember the changes my family went through when my brother was diagnosed with Erythroleukemia at age 17.
Massive doses of iron prepared my body for the donation of bone marrow to replace my brother’s. Post-transplant, the annual Christmas tree was replaced with an artificial stand-in and fresh fruits and vegetables were banned from dinner plates due to bacterial concerns. Salt was eradicated from the kitchen because of adverse effects of immunosuppressant medications. No one with even a sniffle was allowed within fifty feet.
Here in the Wright household, we’ve had our fill of “-ists.” We’ve seen neurologists, speech therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, sensory therapists and cognitive therapists… and those were just for Curlytop! At times, I only knew what day of the week it was by the office we walked into. Add in Snugglebug’s asthma and dietary issues, Pockets’s allergies, the collective broken bones of GirlWonder, Pepper and The Dude, and we’ve collected more -ists than I can shake a stick at.
To be clear, shaking a stick at the -ist du jour is considered poor form, no matter how frazzling the week has been. Trust me on this.
I am grateful for the absence of “oncologist” from the list above, and my heart is broken by the fact that for so many, “pediatric” must precede the title. As Mindi Finch says, I hate, hate, HATE childhood cancer. It steals away childhoods. It pushes parents to the breaking point. It frightens and frustrates siblings, who need care and attention, even though they’re well. It financially devastates families.
Warriors and advocates like Mindi give me hope. My brother’s 14-year post-transplant recovery gives me hope. Imagining a world without childhood cancer gives me hope.
Seeing the courage of kids like our valley’s own Detric Hernandez gives me hope.
Seven-year-old Detric has been diagnosed with Stage Four Lymphoma and Leukemia. You can help Detric and his family with his brave fight by donating at a local business, purchasing a Rodeo Lake Chelan t-shirt at the rodeo this weekend (all proceeds go to support Detric’s family) or by volunteering your time and talent.
Call Detric’s benefit campaign coordinator, Karyl Oules, at 509-682-9155 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can make a difference. Visit http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/DetricHernandez to leave words of encouragement online for Detric and his family.
Above all, please pray. Pray for complete recoveries for Gregory, Detric, and children like them. Pray for the families who have lost children to childhood cancer.
Please, pray for a cure.
Photo from Detric's Caring Bridge photo page.