Today’s post isn’t bookish at al, but it is about something very dear to me. This is the most personal I will probably ever get on my blog. Please take the time to read what I have to say. Thank you so much! 💛
I was born in 1994, a healthy 9 lbs 6 oz baby…or so my parents thought. At 7 months old, the path to my ENTIRE future changed. My mom was told by the local health department that I wasn’t visually tracking items as I should be. She followed up with my Pediatrician, but nothing was found. For the next two weeks, my mom noticed the vision problems for herself. She took me back to the Pediatrician, who then noticed I had no red reflect in my eyes. The next day, we were at an eye doctors office to check things out. The doctors took me back to do an exam while my parents not so patiently waited in the room with my sister & grandma. When they brought me back…my life, their lives & our entire family’s life changed. CANCER, Retinoblastoma, tumors in both my eyes. Mom says she sat in that chair holding me, thinking about having to bury me. Imagine, a mother having to go through that…
On that day my parents were given the option to take me to a Louisville hospital or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. With no hesitation they chose St. Jude! Mom & Dad were told to head straight to Memphis, Tennessee and not to stop for anything but gas. Within hours my family had met my team of doctors who would eventually save my life.
A few days after arriving at St. Jude I was receiving radiation shot directly into both my eyes. Everyday for 31 days, I was put to sleep so this could happen. Mom says I was a trooper! Once that treatment was over, I was in remission for 2 years! Constant trips to Memphis, constant exams under anesthesia, but for those two years life was “normal.”
Then came the news no one wanted to hear…the cancer was back, but only in my right eye this time. So, back to Memphis we went, where I would receive surgery to sew a radioactive plaque to my eyes. For four days after the surgery I had to stay in a lead room. My mom was pregnant at that time so unfortunately I couldn’t be around her…so grandma & grandpa to the rescue! Needless to say, I was spoiled for those days! That treatment worked for 1 year.
Once again, the cancer was back. At this point, I was old enough to kind of know what was going on. This time we tried chemotherapy, 2 milder kinds. I spent countless hours in the med room. I was hooked up to a machine through a Hickman Line that had been surgically inserted in my chest. That treatment worked for another year, and you guessed it…cancer came back.
This time, removal of my right eye & 2 strong kinds of chemo was the only option left for me. So at 4 years old, I went into surgery with two eyes and came out with one. The six months of chemo made me super sick and I lost my hair. There were times that I wasn’t allowed to have visitors or even move from the bed.
Finally, months later we were told…NO MORE CANCER was detected! I was 5 by then & starting Kindergarten with no eye, no hair & still looking frail, but I WAS ALIVE!
All in all, during my years of treatment for childhood cancer, I had 42 surgeries/procedures of various kinds that required me to be put to sleep. I had set backs. I had sepsis for 3 weeks. I had prosthetic eyes made. The list could go on, but all of which would include things NO child should experience! My life may have been completely different had I not had cancer, but if my battle helped researchers find a way to stop another child from going through such invasive treatment, then I am okay with that!
I am forever grateful that there is a place like St. Jude. They are & will always be my home away from home. In all my time as a patient, my parents NEVER received a medical bill. St. Jude believes that a family should only have to focus on the care of a child, not how much it will cost. It’s a truly magical place.
I’m sharing my story with you because September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The goal of this campaign is to raise funds & awareness for pediatric cancer. As you can tell, this month means SO much to me. I am encouraging you to donate to the cause! Your money will go toward the research to finding a cure. No child or family should have to go through something as awful as cancer!
“Let’s end childhood cancer. Together.”
❤️ Donate to St. Jude here.
❤️ If you would like to donate to a different organization, please message me & I’ll help you out!
❤️ If you are unable to donate, that is perfectly fine! You can share this post to spread awareness!