The timing of childhood cancer is never right, but it seemed so unfair when days before I had a conversation with my husband about how fortunate we were to have a home, jobs, and 3 healthy children.
Jacob had been complaining of hip pain for several weeks but we gave him Tylenol and we really felt it was growing pains or a minor sports injury. 10 year old boys are active and growing and he suffered from night time leg cramps most of his young life.
It all came to a head when we woke up to Jacob sobbing and screaming in pain around 3 am on March 4, 2012. We decided a trip to the ER was in order for what we thought was a routine X-ray, some pain meds and maybe a set of crutches. We were not prepared to hear that our son had a “very suspicious mass” on his pelvis. We knew that meant cancer but wrapping our minds around news like that was more than overwhelming.
When stuck in a hospital setting at least 10 days a month, one has to become creative to stay entertained and deal with the anger. Humor became more important than ever to Jacob and myself. We purchased a whoopie cushion and Jacob would use it in the clinic, on the elevator, in the halls etc. Then there was the fake cigarette that would hang out of Jacob’s mouth as we walked the pediatric unit. People’s reaction made us laugh and forget about the pain for a while.
After 6 rounds of chemo, Jacob had the cancerous pelvic bone removed. He had to use a walker to get around, attend physical therapy and hurry up and heal so he could have another 11 rounds (22 weeks of chemo). Jacob finished up treatment in December 2012 and being cancer free was all we wanted for Christmas. Jacob remains cancer free today.
Had it not been for a super nursing staff, amazing friends, an incredible support system and my PACKS (Parents And Cancer Kid Support) group, I never would have made it. I had to learn to allow people to help, accept fund raisers and ask for help. I would highly recommend attending or starting your own “cancer parent” support group as it was truly a life saver. Who else but a cancer parent can also pronounce those 6 syllable drugs, talk blood counts and feel that stabbing pain you feel?
The end of our cancer journey was celebrated at the Atlantis Resort, thanks to The Make A Wish Foundation. We have given back by hosting a blood drive, heading up a CureSearch Team and helping out with Make A Wish events. My husband even rode his bicycle 300 miles, over 3 days to help fund other children’s MAW trips.
Thank you for helping us bring awareness to pediatric cancer and for helping us to “Make Gold the New Pink.”
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Because kids get cancer too!