Guest Post with Kelly Weaver about her son Andrew’s Triumph over Neuroblastoma
My son, Andrew, is five and a half and has done a whole lot of living in those years. He just started Kindergarten, virtually for now, but even if he was not in school, he would be learning. Inquisitive by nature, he wants to know how things work and why. Match Box cars and Transformers are his favorite toys along with books, specifically Piggie and Elephant and Pete the Cat.
Fortunately today Andrew is thriving; he is strong, active, and resilient. Resilient, because at four months old, he was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a type of pediatric cancer. June 16th, 2015 is the day my life changed, it was the day I heard the words, “your son has cancer”. Andrew was treated with immense compassion by a dedicated and educated team at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina. After four rounds of chemotherapy, many blood and platelet transfusions, and surgeries, his tumor was resected. In the four years that followed his diagnosis he had various scans, and all have been clean. Waiting for those phone calls with results never got easier. Andrew’s next appointment is in September when we meet with his survivorship team, two wonderful words to say together, survivorship team.
In the unfortunate world of pediatric cancer, we often use the phrase, “no one fights alone”. Andrew did not fight alone, our family did not fight alone, and I do as much as I can to make sure no family fights alone. Andrew’s diagnosis, the families we met during treatment, and the kids I know who are fighting now, inspire me to do as much as I can to ensure “no one fights alone”. I am often asked what was helpful to us during treatment. From neighbors walking our dog to friends bringing meals these things helped us focus on Andrew. If you ever wonder what you can do, just do something. If you think what you are going to do is the “wrong thing”, just do something. A simple text saying, “I am sorry you are faced with this. I am thinking about you.” meant so much. Hearing the phrase, “Everything will be fine.” however, was not what I needed to hear. With cancer, there are no guarantees, and no one, not even Andrew’s amazing oncologist could guarantee the outcome.
How we can support a family going through similar circumstances:
- Support locally by finding bake sales and fundraisers like Cookies for Kids’ Cancer bake sale @good_cookielkn, local to the Lake Norman area!
- A gesture you may think is small or not enough, to a family living in the hospital, trust me, is more than enough. A $5 coffee gift certificate can really make the day a whole lot better. Sending, via mail or email, gift certificates to restaurants at or near the hospital is a wonderful help. Most hospitals list these restaurants on their website.
- Asking, “How are you / your child doing today?” is much easier to answer than, “How are you / your child doing?”. Asking about “today” frames the question in the present.
- If the family has other children, consider sending two copies of the same book as a gift. This way the parent and child in the hospital can read or hear the same story as the child at home. Even via video chat a parent could still read to the child at home.
- If you bring the family a meal at home, make one that can go directly in the freezer. Schedules are very unpredictable when a child is in-patient and being able to put a meal in the freezer for another night is wonderful.