September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
My daughter Ashley died of cancer in November 2001. She was 14 years old. Diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was almost 10, she went through a year-and-a-half of treatments, was cancer-free for three years, and then relapsed in the Fall of 2001. She survived only two-and-a-half months after her relapse.
In the United States in 2007, more than 10,000 children under the age of 15 were diagnosed with cancer. Over 1,500 of them will die from the disease. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in children, exceeded only by accidents. (Source: American Cancer Society)
But the devastating story of childhood cancer cannot be told simply with numbers. Each number has a face, a name, and a family.
Each of those numbers is a living, breathing child, who will suffer unimaginably through surgeries, radiation treatments, chemotherapy and other procedures; will endure marathon hospital stays, violent nausea and vomiting spells, weight loss, weight gain, loss of appetite, loss of hair, stares and whispers from people they don’t know.
Many of them will emerge from the battle proudly wearing the title “Survivor”. Few words are as sweet. Many others will succumb to the disease. Their lives will be cut short, and those left behind will forever wonder what “might have been, if only …”
For those families who are left with empty arms and broken hearts, one of their greatest fears is that the world will forget that their precious child was here. I know, because I am one of those broken-hearted Daddies. There is a burning desire deep in my soul to keep Ashley’s memory alive. I cannot explain it to those who have not walked my path. Nor will I apologize for it to those who do not understand. Ashley, quite simply, is worth remembering.
And so, I offer you a small memento of my Princess in images and words. Please click here to see a slide show with pictures of my Ashley, and to listen to a song that I wrote in her memory.
And please take a moment today to say a special prayer for the thousands of children who are currently battling cancer, and for their Mommies and Daddies and Brothers and Sisters.
Thank you, and God bless.