During Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we are sharing stories from the many families we’ve served over the past twenty years. Childhood cancer leaves a lasting impact on every family touched by the disease. This month we honor their many unique journeys through childhood cancer and ask you to stand with us by joining our monthly giving program.
Guest Post by Kim Sampson
Glen and I knew what it was like losing a parent to cancer, but had no idea how differently devastating it is when your child is diagnosed. Becca was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when she was five years old. Her treatment was tough and ended two years later. She has remained in remission for three years. Here is the strange reality: feeling so unbelievably grateful that our daughter lived, but at the same time, so terrified that our lives will never be the same again. Or worse: that the cancer will come back.
I understand why people want to focus on the fact that Becca is in remission. Most people around us want to believe that Becca is fully healed, physically and emotionally, and is a whole little girl once again. But what most people don’t notice about Becca is that she is learning how to not be afraid when she gets a bloody nose or stomachache. She is learning that she can get a normal cold and not go to the Emergency Room. Becca is learning how to go to school every day even if the kid next to her has the flu. She is learning how to build friendships; friendships that revolve around who she is, not who she is with cancer. She is learning to trust that kids at her new school love, laugh and smile around her because they like her, not because they feel bad for her.
Glen and I had been married for 13 years when Becca was diagnosed. We remain married but even the strongest of marriages are tested during a fight like this. Loving, trusting, beautiful marriages are broken by the effects of a child’s illness. These are facts, not just words written on a page by an emotional mom. Marriages take work on the best of days. Spending time communicating, laughing and loving each other…this matters.
When Becca became sick, Glen and I made financially hard but emotionally easy choices for our family. Some which had horrible consequences. We chose to be by Becca and Timmy’s side during treatment. That meant being there for Becca and being there separately for our son. After all, both needed to make it to the other side of cancer. The financial burden that we would encounter was nothing short of a disaster. Glen put in as many hours as he could each week, while often relying on overtime to make ends meet, but quickly lost his job due to his unrelenting love and commitment for Becca. Now what?
We were connected with Family Reach when we truly needed it. Glen had no income. We had no food. We could not pay our mortgage. We couldn’t keep our family warm. These are basic needs that are not negotiable. Every human being deserves to be fed, warm and safe at night.
Family Reach’s support gave us a reprieve long enough to catch our breath and think about our next steps. They gave Glen and I more than a few moments together in the hospital with Becca and Timmy. They gave me time to just be a mom, not a superhero. Just a mom.
The battle is not over when the chemo ends. Our daughter goes to the hospital multiple times a year for late effects and check-ups. We are so very afraid when she gets her blood drawn. I don’t know if that fear will ever go away. Glen now has a wonderful job, but the thought of losing that income and stability is never far from our minds.
The leukemia and how it touched Becca and the rest of our family is something I am determined to work through. I know I don’t have it all figured out yet. In fact, I am sure that it is going to take a very long time to sort through all the emotions that our family has experienced over the past few years. It is a lonely and isolating journey. But, we are not alone when we have Family Reach on our side. They were financially supportive but more importantly, they were loving and compassionate. We will forever be grateful.
We are proud to stand by The Sampson family through and beyond Becca’s cancer. Become a Key Holder today and double your impact with a matching gift from The Castle Group. With the help of our Key Holders, we can be there for the thousands of families who will hear the words “your child has cancer” this month.