I used to live in a world where childhood cancer did not exist. When a commercial came on showing children fighting cancer, I always changed the channel. I was just too hard to face the reality of what these children and families endure. However, on December 12, 2011 the reality of childhood cancer smacked me right in the face.
Our daughter, Michaela, had been struggling with non-specific ankle pain for a few months. Initial diagnosis was a sprained ankle. Michaela had just made the competitive gymnastics team. She was spending more hours in the gym, and going for runs frequently. In time, the pain in her ankle started to slow her down. She underwent a series of medical tests. Although, we were told they were 99.9% sure this was not a malignancy, every step we took was bringing us closer and closer to the reality of the 0.1% we did not want to face.
On December 12, 2011 the phone rang. Her bone biopsy results were back. The doctor’s voice was a little shaken, his speech slow and specific. He said, “Jennifer, I’m very sorry to tell you this. Michaela has bone cancer. Her biopsy confirmed Ewing’s Sarcoma.” In that moment, our world stopped moving. Life for us was forever changed.
Ewing’s Sarcoma is a very aggressive rare form of childhood bone cancer. Fortunately, at the time of Michaela’s diagnosis, the cancer was localized to most of the right fibula bone in her leg. She immediately started a year of aggressive chemotherapy. After 6 rounds of chemotherapy, Michaela underwent a five hour limb sparring surgery to remove the cancerous bone. She received a cadaver bone through the gift of organ donation. Two weeks later, she resumed chemotherapy. She completed chemotherapy on 11/8/12. Currently, she is 6 months cancer free. She continues to work on rebuilding strength, physical therapy, and surgeries.
A family doesn’t have time to process what is happening when your child is handed the diagnosis of cancer. Suddenly, we were witnessing the body of our healthy child, transform into a body of a child with childhood cancer. I could no longer simply look away when the image of childhood cancer was too difficult to face. I sit next to her with all of her chemotherapy treatments. She vomits and dry heaves uncontrollably. As I hold her emesis basin, I wipe her mouth and dry her tears. On day 13 of chemotherapy, Michaela’s pretty curly brown hair started to fall out. As I gave her a bath each day in the hospital, that week, her hair came out in clumps all over my hands. I could no longer simply look away when the image of childhood cancer was too difficult to face. It is here. It is now our reality.
It has been 18 months since we heard the dreaded words, “Michaela has cancer.” We have survived the awful days of not knowing, the diagnosis, chemotherapy, hair loss, constant sickness, and surgery. . However, we are starting to see the light at the end of this dark tunnel we have been traveling. We are forever changed as a family.
I look at her daily, and wonder how she does it. She has handled this with amazing grace, and confidence. There is not a moment that my thoughts shift away from her right now. There is nothing that I would not do for this child. It is an incredibly helpless situation as a mother. I will now forever be a "Ewing's Sarcoma Cancer Mom" and discovering what that role means. She will forever be a childhood cancer survivor and inspiration to many. Those of you who have followed her journey, and showed support will forever be a person who helped her through childhood cancer. Although, we would all like to forget this year ever happened, it is likely to be the one we will never forget.
Thank you in advance for being a positive force in her year of need. She has taught me so much about life this year. I am blessed to be her mother.
After, spending over a year at Michaela's hospital bedside, feeling utterly helpless as chemotherapy raged through her veins, I've decided to no longer sit helplessly. The chemotherapy has stopped raging through her veins, and to this date Michaela's has successfully fought off sarcoma, I will no longer sit quietly or helplessly. I will continue the fight against childhood cancer and sarcoma for my daughter and all of our children.
Please help us support one of our biggest inspirations, Miles 2 Give. With each step they take, we are provided hope. I am empowered by their mission, and dedicated to helping them raise funds for Sarcoma Research.
From Miles 2 Give:
"Miles 2 Give is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for Sarcoma. We raise funding for Sarcoma cancer research through cross-country ultra-running all the while inspiring people to achieve more. This year, 2013, our founder Landon Cooper, along with Tour Director Ryan Priest and Tour Videographer John McKay, will run across the USA through a 150-day endurance feat to raise a minimum of $300,000 for Sarcoma Cancer research. 100% of all monies raised go to research. They will run from Ocean Beach, California starting on February 14th across this great nation arriving in Washington DC mid-July.
In partnership with the Sarcoma Foundation of America, Miles2Give will be raising funds for the SFA Ashley Davis Sarcoma Research grant. The SFA will then award these grants to the most proven Sarcoma Cancer researchers across the nation in an effort to find a cure and better patient therapies for Sarcoma Cancer."
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