The past few weeks I have been struggling to figure out how to express something that's been eating at me.
Children shouldn't get cancer.
We shouldn't have to watch our children suffer from this awful disease. Watching Matt fight, always with a smile and a positive attitude, is the most heart wrenching, devastating experience that I could have ever imagined. Listening to his childlike faith is heartbreaking. He told me the other day that he was glad we had found his tumors. Now that the doctors were taking care of him, as long as he followed their instructions, his tumors would go away and he would be healthy again. How do you explain to a sweet nine year old boy that the tumors will likely not go away, no matter how careful he is, and no matter how good the doctors are? How do your discuss your child's own human mortality and frailty on such a personal level? I am prepared to discuss with my children the fact that everyone will die someday, but how do you talk about this fact with a child who has a life-threatening illness? I believe in miracles, and we pray for one daily. People can live for a long time with stable, low grade brain tumors. But chemotherapy and radiation are not going to completely get rid of Matts cancer. He will be monitored yearly (at least) for the rest of his life.
However, Matt is one of the lucky ones. He has a chance......
When I joined this strange pediatric brain tumor world, I learned of the grand-daddy of all pediatric brain tumors, the diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma or DIPG. Children diagnosed with this, the most deadly pediatric brain cancer, usually don't live longer than 18 months - and it's 18 months of watching your child suffer horribly and deteriorate before your eyes. This video was made by a mother, Christine, about her daughter, Alicia. Christina has started a foundation, you can check our her blog here, and her foundation, onemoreday, here. This video is very difficult to watch, but I believe it is important because awareness is the first step towards a cure.
There is a darling little girl that some of you here in Utah may have heard about on KSL. Her name is Sadie and she has a DIPG. The story on the news piqued my interest, as my ears perk up at the words 'brain tumor'. I went to her website and just crumbled when I heard what her diagnoses is. My heart aches for this family and for the year ahead of them. Of course everyone knows that brain tumors are awful. However, I had no idea exactly how awful they could be. Finding a cure for DIPG could likely translate into cures for many other types of brain cancers. Please help in any way you can. Prayers are wonderful. Donations are also wonderful - much research has yet to be done on pediatric brain tumors! If you are looking for a worthy cause, it's hard to imagine one more profound than this.