Monday, September 1, 2014

I wish I wasn't "AWARE"

First grade 2012
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Am I Aware?? You better betcha! February 6, 2012.. my heart stopped.. Well, actually it stopped a few days before because I knew.  I knew in my heart that something wasn't right. But, nothing takes your breath away like the moment the doctor's office calls and says they need you and your husband to come and not bring your child.  They needed to talk with us.  It was a gut wrenching heart breaking time in our lives. Our beautiful, perfect little boy was headed for a fight for his life... and he didn't even know it.  He was too young and too innocent to be "Aware". That's the case for all of these little ones fighting for their lives.  They are dependent on us and rely on their parents, communities, and doctors to make them "ok", "normal", "survivors".

 For those of you who don't know, September is CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS MONTH.  It's not much, just one month to take a moment and acknowledge the little ones that are fighting so hard.  Before our family was forced to be "aware" of cancer, I thought childhood cancer was rare.  I thought only kids that "weren't normal" got cancer... not the fast little boy on the baseball team, or the little girl dancing on the front row at the recital, or that beautiful baby that our teacher had last year. Not MY kid.. Boy.. was I wrong.  Cancer picks no favorites and in many cases, it is a ruthless, life ending beast.  In ALL cases, it's life changing. Of the 46 children per DAY who are diagnosed with cancer, 7 of those kids will die. It's a tough thought and something that has no definitive cure.  Most of the treatments haven't changed in over 20 years. The protocols are the same.. the medicines are the same.. and little has advanced in the treatment plans.  It's concerning and frustrating.
The fox mask clayton wore for 28 days
as he received radiation on his right ear. 
As for the Castle family, let me just speak candidly.  We don't talk about cancer much in our house. Honestly, it is just too hard.  You see, we don't want to be "AWARE".  We want to pretend that cancer never touched our perfect family.. that cancer never stole our joy, kept us awake at night, caused us to be terrified anytime someone in our family has an earache, head ache, skin rash or any other common problem. You see, when we hear the words, "cancer", "chemotherapy", "radiation", etc..we know first hand what terror it is.  We know what our "chances" are. Our children have gone to camp with, gotten close to, and loved on kids that are not going to make it.  That are not cured.. or that will never be the same because of cancer.  We are aware.  We are forever grateful that Clayton fought and won.  We do NOT want to go back to those days.  We don't even want our four month scans.  We just want to turn our backs, move on and act like it didn't happen.. But, you see, we just can't because we "get" it.  We have seen it, we have lived it.  We are FORCED to be aware.
      If you're still with me, I'm just asking you to do something small.  Go to Auntie Anne's in the mall and donate a dollar. This month they are collecting money for Alex's Lemonade Stand. It's an organization that provides funds for children's cancer research.  It doesn't even cost you anything because when you donate a dollar, they in turn give you a coupon for a dollar off.  Or.. I'm betting you probably know someone with childhood cancer.  I can almost promise you do.  Give to the hospital where he or she is fighting.  I know as a community we are asked so often to give and give and every disease deserves funding.. not just breast cancer, but the kids fighting too.
                        As for Clayton, he is doing GREAT.  He is a success story.  His last scans showed him as cancer free... NED.  He will continue to have scans for his entire life in hopes that we NEVER have to face the beast again.  In honor of his fight and the many kids we are in touch with still fighting, please be aware.  These babies depend on it.
Mrs. Barrett.. Clayton's kindergarten teacher

Mrs. Barrett.. now his 3rd grade teacher

HE is why we are aware.. HE's worth it

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