So, I’ve been meaning to write this article for awhile now.. but every time I go to start, I feel my chest tightening so I just stop. Partially I think because I’m afraid if I put it out into the universe I’m going to jinx myself and my family… and partially because I know there are so many other families out there still in the midst of battle. If you’ve read the About Us section then you already know why Angela and I started this blog… but this is part of my story.
Cancer. Who doesn’t know a family member, a friend, a friend of a friend, a perfect stranger with a bald head and a LiveStrong bracelet on, who is currently fighting or has lost someone to cancer. I hate sitting down to think about this because as I do all the names of people who are or have battled cancer start coming to mind.. one after another. The first time I really felt it’s impact was when I lost my grandmother in my early 20’s. I can still picture her in my head in her bright orange and purple outfit (Clemson colors) one day and then wearing leopard print the very next day. I only wish I was as bold as she was in life.
The next one would be my brother, Kit, who was diagnosed with cancer 4 years ago at the age of 28. His diagnosis to me was like being sucker punched. You never expect your younger sibling to get sick. Thankfully he’s pretty stubborn when he wants something, so he won that battle.
After my grandmother’s passing and my brother’s battle.. you kind of think ok we’ve survived those the universe couldn’t possibly have anything more in store for us. Wrong. In May of last year my 14 year old son, Owen was a healthy and active teenager. He ran track for his school, sang in chorus, raced dirt bikes on the weekends, and spent plenty of time annoying his 2 younger brothers.
One day at school he was asked to throw a shot-putt, when he came home he casually mentioned that his arm was sore. We let it go for a few days figuring he had probably just pulled a muscle. A trip to the doctors confirmed what we suspected that he probably had just strained a muscle. They told us if it still hurt in a couple weeks to come back in. Well, a few weeks later it was still bothering him so we skipped the trip back to our doctors figuring they tell us to see an orthopedic for x-rays anyways. The x-rays revealed what none of us thought, our son had a tumor in the bone of his right arm. And thus began our journey into childhood cancer.
I won’t go into the ups and the downs of childhood cancer. I will say that while I wouldn’t wish this journey on anyone, I do wish that everyone in their lifetime could experience being completely surrounded by the amazing amount of love and support that my entire family was. Our experience had a positive outcome, on Monday of this week Owen’s final surgery was completed to remove his port. He is now well on his way to recovery and just enjoying being a teenager again. His journey is well documented on Caringbridge if anyone wants additional information.
(Shortly after this entry was posted – Owen’s cancer returned – this time to his lungs. Ongoing updates can be found on the Caringbridge link posted above).
Now for the statistics: Nearly 50 families in this country received the very same news today, that I received last year: Your child has cancer – the disease that kills more children in this country than any other. Tomorrow, about 50 more will get that same news, and in an instant those families will learn what is impossible to accept – cancer can impact any child. It happens every day.
This Saturday, April 9th, our charity will be holding it’s annual Help Fight Cancer & Celebrate Life golf tournament and silent auction. If you know anyone in the Northern VA/DC area that would enjoy a fun day out on the course for a good cause please ask them to visit www.westrashcharities.org (charity donations are also accepted ). Our charity is a IRS 501 (C) 3 tax exempt and is run completely by family members. Please join us in our vow to honor those courageously fighting, by continuing to provide funding for the advancement of cancer research and treatments.