Written by Melanie Karnowski, Scott & White Family Medicine Clinic in Waco
What do you think of when you think of September? For millions of Americans and thousands of Texans it’s more than just the Labor Day holiday, BBQs and the beginning of fall. September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.Melanie and son, Aaron
This month became more than a holiday for my family back in 2007. My son, Aaron White, at that time was 11 and diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma, a rare, but aggressive cancer of the lymphatic system. I will never forget the day we were told. I fell to my knees and began to beg God, “Give me the cancer, let me fight, please God don’t do this to my baby.”
Then anger set in, and we became determined to beat this. And we did, we won with the help of many great people. The Pediatric Oncology team at McLane Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center became our second family, and the children’s hospital became our second home. The bond that was built between our family and the oncology group was beyond my expectations of any medical team. I knew I wasn’t the first mother to ever go through this, but they made me feel as though I was the only mother going through this. They let me scream, cry, and ask them why. Although they never screamed back at me, they did cry with me. They gave me information on what they were doing to cure my son. They kept me in the loop at all times, and if I ever felt that I didn’t know what was going on, they “dummied” it down. Aaron was by far my hero. He took everything life had to give him and he made the best out of it, partly because of the great support team he had.
“Give me the cancer, let me fight, please God don’t do this to my baby.”
This month has been a special month for us since that time. I’m ashamed to admit it now, but before this horrible disease took hold of our family, September was all about the beginning of school, our other son’s birthday and our wedding anniversary. I, like many other people around the world, didn’t even know childhood cancer had its own month! I mean, I knew that breast cancer was in October, and that pink was the color for it, but I never knew that gold is the ribbon color for childhood cancer or that September was the official month. Ask yourself this, how many football teams wear gold in honor of childhood cancer? How many commercials do you see during the month of September offering to donate proceeds of their sales to research for childhood cancer? How many cancer walks do you see going on nationally during the month of September? I could go on and on. Just keep in mind all these things could happen if more people knew. We can raise awareness and get the recognition we need to make a difference.
The Pediatric Oncology Group at McLane Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center is making every effort to rid our children of this horrible disease. There are many different cancer’s associated with children. Some have high cure rates and some have basically no cure rate. There are many ways we can help! Awareness and research are two great places to start. Let’s all start by recognizing that not only adults get cancer, kids get it to! Support every child as if they were your own. Wear the gold, and tell everyone you see that cancer doesn’t care what age you are and that September is a month to recognize! Secondly, research is the root of all cures. If we promote September and what it stands for then we can ensure that more money goes toward the research needed to save lives. Even the smallest amount of recognition, is still recognition!
My hope by writing this story is that I will be able to bring awareness to those who may not know what September really means. To a lot of parents and kids around the world it means a chance for a brighter tomorrow.
Since that September in 2007 our lives have changed drastically. Our son was in remission until 2011, and then he relapsed. The cancer came back with a vengeance, and our son passed away at the young age of 15. Our son “earned his Angel Wings” on September 20, 2011. The word “Angel Wings” is heard far too often in the world of pediatric cancer. It’s the way parents chose to explain that our child or children have died. It means the same thing, but for some reason Angel Wings is just so much easier to say than death. With support, research and knowledge we can prevent many more children from earning their “Angel Wings.” Please help our kids and help end the suffering. Wear gold this September and remember this is the month to fight, believe, hope and pray!
God Bless and thank you!
Aaron Wayne White (5/7/1996 – 9/20/2011)
Find out more about McLane Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center or visit the Scott & White Healthcare Foundation to make a donation to the new the center being built adjacent to the hospital.