This month is Childhood Cancer Awareness month, and I asked a few sunshine moms, Heather, Sunshine, and Mindy to share what they have learned in their journey. Spreading Sunshine has walked alongside these moms as they face the unthinkable — their child’s cancer diagnosis and treatment. Their comments reveal that it’s devastating and hard — yet there is always hope.
Cancer is Loss
During this pandemic, we’ve all experienced losses of normalcy. But long before and long after our lives are back to normal, families facing childhood cancer will be dealing with overwhelming loss of everything that is normal. Faith’s mom, Mindy, said, “Cancer takes birthdays, friends, school, Christmas and “normal life.” It leaves so many questions unanswered like ‘Why me? How did I get this? Why are all these people staring at me? Why can’t I just be normal?’”
Ty’s mom, Sunshine, said, “Childhood cancer is the toughest thing I have ever been through and as a parent it is the worst thing to watch your child have to go through. It makes you feel extremely helpless and can make you feel so defeated from the start.”
Don’t Take Life for Granted
A diagnosis like cancer often brings into focus that every moment is precious. Heather, Micah’s mom, said, “During the past nine months I’ve learned to be present. To enjoy the moments given to me. To feel hugs. To smell the top of each of my kids’ hair. To look at the green in the trees and the clouds in the sky.”
Heather also told me about the power of laughter. “I’ve also received joy that I hadn’t had before,” Heather said. “It’s amazing how God can use such a life-threatening illness — how God can use it for good. When we got to St. Jude, laughing became a big deal to us. If we were going to do the hard things, then we were going to laugh and sing loudly, too. Later on, I read about the power of laughing and healing. When we laugh, we actually release strong healing chemicals into our bodies. So we took it upon ourselves to try to laugh as much as possible.”
Childhood Cancer Affects the Whole Family
When I asked Sunshine what she wanted to share about childhood cancer she said, “Childhood cancer most definitely affects the whole family!”
When a child is diagnosed, it often involves moving to a new city to get treatment. This can mean two things. Sometimes an entire family is uprooted leaving schools, churches, jobs, family and their entire support system behind. Other families must split up. One parent stays home to work while the other parent goes with the child receiving treatment. Mindy shared with me, “Cancer strikes out of nowhere. It isn’t fair, you don’t see it coming and it crashes over you and your family like a tsunami.”
God will Send Help
Families facing childhood cancer need help. Mindy’s mom, Faith, said, “I’ve learned to lean on those God sends as helpers. As mean and ugly as cancer is, it brings out the good in people around you. Sometimes an angel is sent just when you need it most. You have to accept the help and support when it is given. It’s a blessing! You cannot do it all AND be there for your child. It just cannot be done.”
At Spreading Sunshine, our mission is to be there for families facing childhood illness so no one faces it alone. As we recognize these families during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, I hope you’ll take some time to pray for each one of them.
To learn more about each of these families, you can follow them online at: