On Wednesday of last week, Mr. Sweetie and I were congratulating ourselves on getting a jump start on our Thanksgiving holiday, making it out to Pittsburgh without having to fight any traffic. We enjoyed a fantastic Thanksgiving-eve dinner of Indian food with his aunt, uncle and three cousins. We were thrilled to be with family, on a mini-vaca, and on the cusp of the holiday season, which is simply the most wonderful time of the year.
At about that same time that Mr. Sweetie and I were sitting down for dinner, my co-worker and friend, Melissa, and her family were receiving devastating news. Their youngest son - two-year old Christopher - was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on Wednesday evening. Melissa had taken him in to the pediatrician to get a fever checked out that afternoon, with no reason to think it was more than just a bug that needed to be nipped in the bud before the holiday. Seven hours later, her and her husband were being told the grim diagnosis by doctors and they settled in for an extended hospital stay.
Melissa was one of the first people I worked with when I started working at my company back in 2009. Her patience, knowledge, and willingness to help me were some of the main reasons I found success on one of the more complex projects I was assigned to. She has been an incredible mentor on every project I've worked on with her and she is someone I hold in very high esteem. In addition to being a great colleague and friend, she is a wonderful mom to her two boys and her and her husband are truly a parental dream team. Remembering what a crummy big sister I was growing up and the sheer mass of sibling rivalry that existed between my brother and I, whenever I talked to Melissa I always asked how her boys were doing and if her older son still loved being a big brother. He did, he absolutely adored his little brother to pieces from day one, and still thinks he is the bomb.com 2.5 years later. They are an extremely close family and Melissa and her husband have done a bang-up job instilling strong values and love in their two kids. The cancer diagnosis is something they will overcome as a family, but boy I wish this was a storm they did not have to weather.
According to a number of medical websites, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia has a survival rate of at least 90%, which is great news. But I still can't fathom how scary this whole experience must be for Melissa and her family. Their lives are changed forever - no sniffle, fever, or bruise will ever be looked at the same again and there will always be that quiet fear, just below the surface, of a relapse, even well-past the 5 year timeframe when the cancer is considered "cured." This isn't going to be an easy or quick journey to a cure and it will be one filled with uncertainty.
I was hoping people who read this could keep Melissa and her family - especially two-year old Christopher - in their thoughts. They are lucky in that they have many wonderful family and friends to be a support system. They also have health insurance, which is great, but unfortunately don't cover everything and there will be some hefty co-pays coming down the pipeline. If you're interested in lessening the financial burden, please feel free to visit the fundraising website that has been set up (you can also see from the photos on the site what a fabulous little kid Christopher is). Any little bit helps and it would be an incredible gift to take away any financial concerns so they can be free to focus completely on Christopher's health.
Cheers to Christopher and his family; cheers to his ability to smile through the treatments; may his recovery be fast AND may the hospital cafeteria rain cups of vanilla ice cream down on him whenever he feels well enough to eat!