Monday, June 25, 2012

A New Hope And A New Tribute For A 13 Year Old Warrior

The following message was in my email this morning and was the first thing I saw after logging on:

Evan's Family has left a new comment on your post "They Dare To Care":

Thank you for being willing to gather such an amazing group of personal reflections on such an insipid and ruthless enemy. Our collective goal appears to not just take on the emotional reality of our lives, but to spur on the work that will render our stories as footnotes in history, that a curative process might be discovered so that others may only experience our grief through our words and not their own experience. 

Evan's Family lives in my home state, North Carolina, and they write one of the most touching blogs I've ever read about their journey, as a family, as Evan battles melanoma. Evan is 13 years old. He and his family have fought this "insipid and ruthless" enemy for four years. Evan's battle is drawing to a close, a battle which officially began November 28, 2007.

I wish I could say I've not only been following this blog for a while, but that I've gone and met this inspiring family. But neither would be true. I only recently learned of both family and blog. I encourage anyone who comes across this post to drop whatever you're doing and read theirs. And say a prayer or two for them during this season. Say a prayer for all families facing a similar time.

Their first post was titled A New Hope and the last line in it is, "Thank you for your interest, prayers, and ongoing caring support." They make a commitment to share their son and his triumphs and trials with the world, they covet prayers as what happens happens, and they realize the need for ongoing caring support as they do the un-do-able, that which is the stuff of every parent's nightmares.

They share their 8 year old child who learns he has something called "melanoma" and they share their 9 year old who turns 10 who sees 11 who becomes 12 and who has become a man of 13, wise beyond what a child should be, and seen and endured more than anyone so young should. 

We think of melanoma as a disease that older, male Caucasians get. We hear the new facts and figures that tell us it's also the disease of young women who go to tanning beds. We hear what we want to hear and see what we want to see. Rarely do we hear of children getting melanoma and rarely do we see any die from it. But they do. We have to open our eyes and ears, see and hear. We have to stand and honor those who walk this road and their families who walk it with them, for none walk alone.

It's not just about sharing our shared "emotional reality". It's not all about "spurring (sic) on the work that will render our stories as footnotes in history". We all share and work for that day when there's a cure so that "others may only experience our grief through our words and not their own experience."

None of us, Evan's family included and foremost, want other families to experience firsthand what they are experiencing. None of us want other children to go through what Evan has endured.

The current numbers tell us that 500 children are diagnosed with melanoma each year and that number is on the rise. That's in the USA alone. That may not sound like "many." But those are 500 children in 500 families and that's a lot when it's yours'. And it could be. It can happen in any family across the world. At any time.

Parents, love your children. We know what causes many melanomas, but not all, and not melanoma in children. Work with us to find a cure so the pain doesn't reach into your family.

As I read Evan's story, I find a child of childlike faith, that faith we are told to have and that's the faith I want. In their Confirmation - Frustration post, they share the letter they wrote Evan for his Confirmation (click on the link and scroll down). That particular post ends with this:

You are our hero
as you battle against unseen enemies;
but we know that it is your Hero
that gives you
and joy;
So remember:
Dead heroes save no lives.
And keep on living,
for today is the first day in the rest of your life

All our Love

What an awesome, inspiring sentiment! What an amazing thing to write to your child, a little over a year ago today as I write.

Thank you, Evan and family, for the hope and new hope you give out of your pain.

We all honor you and all families with children who have melanoma, and we honor the children who are our heroes as they "battle against unseen enemies."

We are grateful that you share your battle with us. Our prayers are with you. Blessings.

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