Stage one: Diagnose of cancer
Because I was a less than two years of age, nobody told me that I had cancer. Nobody sat down with me and explained to me what “neuroblastoma” meant, until much later, when I started asking questions. What’s wrong with me? Why is my body so weak when my mind is so strong? Why do kids stare at me in public? Why do people treat me like a baby, even though I am clearly not one? Why do people misunderstand me when I talk, when it sounds clear as a bell to me? For the longest time, I wished for a switch, something I could flip and my body would right itself, become stronger, more normal. But now, I am getting at the truth. A few posts ago, I said that God wanted me to thrive just the way I was. It took me a very long time to get there, but I think I finally am.
I know it is different for an older child. The older he or she is, the more questions they have, and they need just as much, if not more, assurance than babies and toddlers do. It is never easy for a parent to watch their child go through something like this, and that is why so many parents are rising up today to stand against cancer. We know it is going to take an army, and that is why we are gathering ranks. The more time that goes by, the more cancer heroes I meet, the more parents I talk to, the more my heart expands and the more I am determined to help. Enough is enough. It is 2012. I would like to see cures for all 12 major types of pediatric cancer in my lifetime, please.
Stage two: The battle
I think the reason why there are no known cures for pediatric cancers is because people dislike thinking about them, let alone talking about them. It is taboo. You see a baby, and you think he or she is just perfect, and he or she is, even if he or she is fighting for his or her life. Children deserve childhoods. They do not deserve to be cooped up in hospitals. They deserve to be innocent as long as possible – safe in the arms of their parents. But once they have a cancer diagnosis, they are ripped from the happy, carefree life they knew and loved and thrust into a colder, frightening world. Sometimes, a day dawns and it’s like cancer doesn’t exist, even though they are surrounded by reminders – they laugh and play and are just children for a while until the cancer steals the best of them again. And out here in the world, where adults are supposed to be working on cures for them, there is only silence. It’s not right. It’s not fair.
Stage three: The fight for awareness
Pediatric cancer is the number one cause of death among children. One in five children diagnosed will die. It being taboo does not help anything – it needs to be up front and in your face. All parents have dreams for their children, but when those same children are diagnosed, those dreams morph into just one: survival. To this day, no one even knows why children get cancer. You’d think their bodies would be filled with light, sweetness, and promise, not darkness and tumors and bad cells. Maybe the key to finding cures lies with the answer to why some children get cancer and others don’t. I don’t know. I am not a scientist. I am not a doctor. But I am a survivor, and I will keep fighting until every single child is one as well.