Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's Not Good Enough

I'm in a rocking chair in a darkened room. The only light comes from a small flourescent over the sink and the red and green lights on the pump that is connected to my son via a line that goes into his chest. The line is not new - he has had it for several months. It serves many purposes. Tonight it feeds him antibiotics to fight the bacterial infection that has developed in his blood. I can feel the vibration of his grinding teeth in the bend of my elbow where his bald head lay. His body is curled up as tight as possible in my lap. The heat radiating from his fevered body causes my own to sweat but there is no way I'm letting him go. I think he sleeps but still his face holds a tormented look as he battles unseen harm. I am alone except for my boy. On this night I have been told I may lose him. If he makes it to daylight he will have a better chance. I look at his face and gently begin rocking the chair. This is the only position in which he can sleep. I will not sleep tonight. Prayers have been said. There are no more begging requests I can issue. I am a helpless eyewitness to the struggle my baby is facing. I begin to hum Amazing Grace.

This is a piece of the experiences I had in 2002 with my son, Nathan, who was diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma shortly after his first birthday. He survived that night and every night since then. He now lives with no real memories of that year, only vague emotions when we go near a big white building (hospital) or smells popcorn (which the ladies in the oncology office popped every time he came in for chemotherapy). But I remember.

34 children will be diagnosed with cancer today. Of those children, one in five will not survive. If you read those statistics (78% survival rate) and think "that's good enough", what would you tell the parents of the 22% who don't survive? If my son had not made it, that would mean a zero percent survival rate. That's not good enough.

Funding has been cut for childhood cancer research. If my son had died that night, it would not have been the cancer that killed him, but the treatment. If we do not continue research into better treatments and possible cures, children will continue to die and leave devastated families behind.

Please take a moment to visit www.curesearch.org and find out ways you can help in the fight. Write your congressmen and urge them to pass the Conquer Childhood Cancer Act. Do this for the cancer kids. Do this for your kid.