A heartbreaking image showcases the toll cancer takes on children
Almost all of our lives have been touched by cancer, one way or another. But still, it can be easy to forget the daily, human toll the disease, and its treatment, can have on the afflicted.
Last week, on International Cancer Day, Jessica Medinger shared a harrowing photo of her 10-year-old son, who has Leukemia, to help raise awareness.
The hard truth behind cancer is not easy to face. But that’s exactly why posts like the one on the Facebook page Jessica created to document her son’s journey, Stinky Joe’s Pit Crew, are necessary.
According to the page’s about section, “Drake was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia B-Cell (A.L.L. B Cell) on Sept 29, 2012. He reached the milestone of maintenance on June 6, 2013. This page is dedicated to his fight with childhood cancer. Drake is an avid Cars fan and enjoys demo derby’s and figure 8’s. We ask that you join his “Pit Crew” in support of him and his fight.”
The photo, shared on the Love What Matters Facebook page, shows Drake, aka Stinky Joe, standing over the toilet with a grimace on his face, holding his side in obvious pain. He is bald from his chemotherapy, and thin as a rail. Even without the pull-up diapers he’s forced to wear due to the havoc cancer has wreaked on his body, it’s painfully evident how young he is. And how strong he is.
The intensity of Drake’s fight is made more than evident in the photo, but the accompanying description really drives the point home, with searing honesty.
“This is having your son sleep with you at night because he is afraid of something happening and being alone, and by something I mean dying. This is having middle of the night conversations with a ten year old, asking if he dies will he go to heaven and will he see his dad there and be able to talk and play with him. This is him being too weak to get out of bed or walk and needing to be carried or in a wheelchair. This is him falling asleep as someone is talking to him, because he is too exhausted. This is him, throwing up every medication I give him and him dry heaving because his stomach is empty except for the spoonful of yogurt I just gave him with his pills. This is having to take 44 chemo pills last week in a matter of 24 hours. This is him telling me, “mommy, Im not going to make it.””
Imagine writing those words about your own child?
“This is him not wanting to be touched, because it hurts too much, and using morphine to get through his day. This is him telling me he is scared and thinks he wont see his 11th birthday. This is him and me, telling him that I will continue to fight for him when he cant. This is him and me, and our world.”
It’s clear that Drake isn’t the only strong one in his family.
In a world in which, somehow, only four percent of childhood cancer funding goes towards research, posts like this are sadly necessary. People need to be made aware of the toll this disease is taking on young ones and their families. Even when it’s hard to see. “Right now we are just trying to get through the day,” Drake’s Aunt posted on the Love What Matters page. “We never excepted this to spread as much as it has. Thank you for your care and support. We want to raise awareness that childhood cancer only receives 4% of research funding. Please pray as that means the most to us.”
“This is him, Drake, Stinky Joe, my whole world. From the moment I found out I was pregnant till future forever, he has been my reason for life. He is my smile, my love, my heartbeat. He is also my tears, my heart ache, my frowns. He is my life.”
Hopefully, by being so open and honest about the devastation cancer is wreaking on her family, Jessica will inspire some of us to contribute to the fight against childhood cancer, so that one day we can all see a happy, healthy picture of Drake.