“Instinctively, I took a step away from him. What? Our family didn’t get cancer. We had plenty of other health problems in our family history, but not cancer. I looked at Cooper, still wiggling and pushing off my chest in an attempt to be set free. Hugging him closer I thought, cancer?!?”
The word we all dread. The one we never want to hear associated with one of our kids. If we’re honest, the disease we think God has the most difficulty healing.
I met Jenni DeWitt on an online blog linkup and she stole my heart. Every time I see her sweet face pop up in comments or an email, I smile. She is encouraging, funny and writes beautifully. And of course, I fell in love with her lil man, Cooper. Their story – these warriors in the trenches of childhood cancer – stirs my mama’s heart. I know it will yours.
In so many ways, I identify with Jenni. She is a self-confessed major helicopter mom and I get that. I have been known to hover. She has often lived with the fear of something happening to someone she loves and, she is an over-user of hand sanitizer. You can see how we became fast friends.
Hard times have a way of testing our faith. It’s great to follow God when everything is peachy-keen, but when God calls us to follow Him through our biggest fears, and sometimes worst nightmares, that’s when things get real.
For our family, that moment of testing came in the form of childhood cancer.
Before my son was diagnosed with leukemia three years ago, I was a God-fearing, Christian woman who went to church every Sunday and professed my faith in God. But then I went home and spent my time worrying and fretting like an unbeliever. My anxiety was tremendous, and my doubt in God’s ability to protect was stifling.
As fear ran through my brain like wildfire, I learned to cope by convincing myself that I had the control. Irrationally, I reasoned that if I did everything right, if I did everything I was “supposed” to do, then I could keep everyone safe.
But on a cold afternoon in February of 2012, I found out just how wrong I was when my 2-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer.
Instantly, I was plunged into a world of my worst nightmares. My lack of control — my lack of ability to truly protect my children — was painfully evident.
Anxiety threatened to drag me under, but God did not allow that. Instead, through His amazing grace, God started to show me another way. He started to teach me how to trust. He reminded me that the world was not on my shoulders. And, as I wrote in my book Forty Days, He showed up in amazing acts of mercy.
And when God showed up, I gave up. I gave up my illusion that I controlled everything. I gave up my belief that if I did everything perfect things would be okay. And I let go of the notion that these children were mine, because they aren’t.
They are His. He is just letting me take care of them for this breath of time that is their childhood. I am not the main character, I am simply a supporting role. What a relief.
Now Cooper is five years old, and he is three years into his cancer treatment. He is scheduled to take his last chemotherapy on June 5, 2015, and we are so filled with joy and gratitude at the very thought.
And to add to our joy, the very next day, June 6, we will attend a CureSearch walk where we will celebrate all the children who are surviving their diagnosis. Each child will receive a medal for their courage.
Then we will release red balloons, remembering those we have lost — the little ones who ran out of treatment options. And with an ache in our hearts, we will present the money we have worked so hard all year to raise for childhood cancer research.
Then we will walk. And we will look around at the hundreds of people who are on this journey right beside us. And we will find hope that through these trials, God will be lifted up as we all learn to walk more closely by His side, even through our darkest times.
Learn much more about their story as Jenni shares with stark honesty about their walk in her book titled “Forty Days – A Memoir of Our Time in the Desert of Childhood Cancer.” A portion of the proceeds of every book is donated to childhood cancer research. She has donated a signed copy for giveaway so get your entries in.
Jenni DeWitt’s “Forty Days” giveaway
You can also help children like Cooper fight and win their cancer battle by donating to help fund research for childhood cancers. Click here for the DeWitt’s fundraising page and help them reach their team goal of $2,000 for CureSearchWalk. Lary and I are on Cooper’s team. Won’t you join us?