In September of 2013 we spent a night out with our friends, the Busbys, in what was the first and only time both of our whole families were together in one place. Almost exactly a year later, our youngest, Tillery was diagnosed with cancer. Almost exactly a year after Tillery’s diagnosis, their youngest, Chase was diagnosed with cancer.
Joe attended college with Cassie and Chris and was a groomsman in their wedding. When we got married, Chris was a groomsman in our wedding and Cassie was about 8.5 months pregnant with their first child. We have known each other for many years and have experienced many things in life together but there are some experiences you never want to share with your friends.
When Joe got the call from Chris, they were in route from a local hospital to a children’s hospital for testing. Initial bloodwork showed abnormalities that could be leukemia. After the roller coaster year that we had just experienced, the last thing we wanted was to hear of any childhood cancer diagnosis, especially a close friend.
Today, a year later, Chase is doing well. He’s in remission but will still receive chemotherapy for 2 years to make sure that nothing returns. Like Tillery, if you didn’t know his story, you would never guess he’s sick.
When you think of childhood cancer, you may conjure images of sickly, bald kids in hospital beds. There is another face of childhood cancer, though. Faces of kids who blend into your world. Kids who could walk right by you without you knowing. Those kids take immunity compromising medicines, regularly have poison pumped through their veins, and will experience lifelong health issues as a result of their diagnosis or treatment. Kids like Chase and Tillery are the “lucky” cancer patients because they get to do an awful lot of normal things. But sit and talk with the parents, the siblings, or even the cancer patients themselves and you will quickly see that being “lucky” with childhood cancer is still scarier than any nightmare you’ve ever had.
We know many families who have children with cancer and we have many supportive friends who have known us for many years. The Busbys are the only people who understand what it is like to be a cancer family and also knew us before diagnosis. In that way, we share a special bond of friendship.
We look forward to the day we can get all of our crew together again for another night of normalcy. It sure would be nice to watch Chase and Tillery play together.
Here’s a story about Chase from their local paper yesterday: http://goldenisles.news/news/local_news/pre-schooler-valiantly-battles-leukemia/article_be1bcd6d-3289-5636-a3bc-414ce1ef8121.html
Here's the link to our fundraising efforts this month: https://www.alexslemonade.org/mypage/1261673