Last September, I read a post shared on Facebook, calling out the empty intentions behind so many “awareness” campaigns. This one was specifically addressing childhood cancer. It’s a pretty powerful read.
It was shared by Cassie Sartin, mom of Sam Sartin- a now healthy, vivacious little boy who was diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma when he was only 5 months old.
You might recall the tremendous fundraiser so many of you helped me with here over 4 years ago. We raised over $9,000 to #HelpSam.
At the time, Cassie wrote…
I hear people talk about what their kids are doing or what they hope they’ll do or become and I just desperately want him to make it there. Scraped knees, school dances, best friends, hurt feelings, swingsets and playgrounds with big slides, peeing on trees, playing in the dirt… I want him to experience it all.
Now, 4 years later, she reports…
Sam has been off of treatment for a little over two years now. If you met him for the first time today you would never know that as a baby and toddler his tiny body had been through hell and back. He bounces off the walls, loves learning new things, tests his limits, asserts his independence, and would prefer to constantly be on the go. He can’t wait to start school next year.
(Isn’t that just the best update?! There’s more about Sam at the bottom of this post for those of you who have been interested in how he’s doing.)
When Auntie Anne’s reached out to me about the campaign they are participating in with Alex’s Lemonade Stand (a top notch charity that raises money for childhood cancer research), I jumped at the chance to collaborate, remembering how that blog post resonated with me last year.
Childhood cancer research is still tremendously under-funded. And while kids like Sam are beating it, thousands more are still fighting, like Antonio, who was diagnosed with brain cancer last year.
They all deserve the best shot at a rambunctious childhood, complete with scraped knees and school dances, right?
So while spreading awareness is wonderful, and a great way to visibly show our support for all the fighters and survivors, it’s even more important we take action whenever we can.
That’s why I’d like to encourage you, if you are able, to please head over to the The Mighty Fight’s campaign on CrowdTilt.com and donate what you can before September 15th.
$25 funds half an hour of childhood cancer research.
If you can’t take action this way, consider hosting a lemonade stand of your own for Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Cassie also suggests signing up to donate blood or joining the national bone marrow registry at BeTheMatch.org.
I’d like to end this post with more from Cassie on how Sam is these days.
Sam’s type and stage of cancer has about a 50-60% relapse rate (curesearch.org) so his follow-up care includes labs every month, and scans every three months to make sure he’s still in the clear. Scan time is certainly nerve-wracking, but in the day to day we are just living normal lives, whatever that means.
We had a little bump in the road when his routine scans last December showed that a spot we had been monitoring on his kidney grew larger. After surgery remove the mass it was determined to be renal cell carcinoma, a secondary cancer most likely caused from his neuroblastoma treatment.
Thankfully it had not spread to any other areas of the body, the surgery was the only treatment required. It will just be something we continue to monitor going forward. He does have some other lasting effects from treatment like high frequency hearing loss, but if hearing aids are the price we pay to have our kiddo here, we’ll gladly pay it.
I try not to tell people to “live in the now” or “cherish every second” because a.)Yuck. Cliche. And b.) Of course life and parenting aren’t without their frustrations. You don’t have to drink in every moment. But in the quiet moments, that’s what I do. I give thanks that Sam is here to challenge me and worry me sick and give me hell and grey hairs. He’s still here.