Tag Archives: tumor

Daydreaming, and Cancer (It Sucks)

18 Oct

Cancer sucks.  No, seriously, it’s the pits.  I lost a few grandparents to it.  One of my parents just fought a battle (and won!!).  I’ve got friends who have already had to face the life changing reality of it.

It.  Just.  Sucks.

But when it happens to a young child, your heart literally breaks.  When that child happens to be the son of a woman you have always loved like a sister, when that child thinks of you as Aunt Shannon….it’s absolutely devastating.

A few weeks ago, my “nephew” had complaints of a stomach ache and began peeing blood.  He was rushed to the emergency room, and after an ultrasound, the doctors expressed that they suspected he had a Wilms tumor on his kidney.  Wilms is one of the more common types of childhood cancer, and you can read a bit more about that here.  He was moved via ambulance to a local children’s hospital, and further tests confirmed that he had stage 4 cancer.

Stage 4.  There was a tumor on his left kidney, and spots on his liver, lungs and in the blood vessels leading to the right kidney.

At this point, my sister-friend and her husband had already been pulling alternating shifts at the hospital, one parent with my nephew and one parent at home with the other kids.  Both my sister-friend and her husband are the exact type of people you would hold up as an example of what parents should be.  They have hearts of gold and chose professions where they get to help people.  They’re honest, kind, funny, stable, intelligent, loving people who have always wanted to be parents.  But cancer doesn’t care about things like that.  It’s doesn’t discriminate.  And now these wonderful people, whom I’ve always called family, are stretched thin.

Grandparents have been enlisted to help.  Siblings are stopping by to support them, and friends have become taxis.  Heck, I went grocery shopping for them because how else would they find the time for basic supplies?

You see, that’s the reality of cancer.  It doesn’t just affect the person who is diagnosed.  It consumes everyone around the person fighting to beat it.  The patient needs extra time, support and care so you give it, because you love them.  The patient’s needs change and you accommodate them, because you want them to thrive.  The patient’s immune system becomes depressed because of treatment, their moods and energy levels fluctuate, their emotional health takes a beating and you do what you can to support them, because you want them to win.  A child still needs to be encouraged to be a child, so you put them on their balance bike and you hope like hell nothing goes wrong, because you know you can’t put them in a bubble…even on days you want to.

But who supports the parents of a child with Wilms?  Parents who can’t work because they need to support their son?  Parents who are struggling to keep their heads on straight for their children?

Well, their family and friends, for one.  A lot of us have tried stepping up, coming up with strategies to help with meal trains so they don’t have to worry about cooking after yet another trip to the hospital, or private fundraisers to help with the long term bills that are sure to pile up.  But it takes a village to raise a child, and now, I’m asking my village for help.

There are so many pressing concerns in the world right now – the hurricane damage in Puerto Rico, the wildfires out west, the…well, in essence the ethnic cleansing going on in Myanmar, the escalating tensions with North Korea….  There are a lot of causes out there, and for those of you without the resources to give, I fully understand.  I hope that in lieu of money, you might be able to keep both my nephew and all of those afflicted by cancer in your thoughts.  (My nephew is actually one of two children whose families I am close with that are undergoing treatment for Wilms.)

For those of you with the means though, my second biggest worry after my nephew’s immediate recovery, is the bills.  Insurance helps moderate some of the costs, but not all.  And of course, not working means that given enough time, the rest of the family’s bills – mortgage, utilities, food shopping, etc – will begin piling up.  I would like for them not to have to worry about finances when they should be focusing on their son’s recovery.  So, for those of you who might have a few dollars to spare, you can donate here.

Also, as an aside, I chose to make this post on my photography page – just like a choose to bring up other important topics ranging from environmental concerns to humanitarian crises – because I feel that ART IS POWERFUL.  Because through my photography, I have a voice, and it is everyone’s responsibility to use their voice to make the world a better place.  So for those of you who come by just to say Hi and look at some pretty pictures, I appreciate you!  But for those of you who read all of the way to the end of my longer posts, I am extra grateful.  Any support means the world to me, but if I can inspire someone in a positive way, then I feel as though I’ve truly made a difference. We have, together. ❤

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