September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Join us today, September 25, 2009 as CURE Childhood Cancer honors CURE Kid Brad Gambrell. Join our fight as CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time! Donate to Brad’s Fund.
Brad Gambrell’s Story:
In the spring of 2000, my younger son Brad was an ordinary 9th grader, interested mostly in sports and girls. In spite of not feeling well most of the winter and early spring, he was enjoying life. All that changed on April 5th of that year. That was the day that we heard for the first time a word that has since changed every part of our lives: lymphoma. He had been in Florida with another family on spring break when, unable to breath, he was rushed to the emergency room. One chest x-ray later and our brutal journey would begin.
After an initial round of chemotherapy in Jacksonville, we returned home where Brad’s 25 month protocol began at Egleston. In those first few days and weeks, we learned of terms and procedures that before would have merely been long, unpronounceable words to us. But now they were to mean the possible difference between life and death for our son.
During the next two years, there would be numerous rounds of toxic chemotherapy, radiation, painful lumbar punctures, nausea, aching joints and bones and hair and muscle loss. As a parent, just watching a strong healthy teenage boy become a weak, frail shadow of his earlier physical form was truly heartbreaking. But seeing and feeling his separation from his teenage world was even more devastating. Probably the single most underestimated aspect of childhood cancer, particularly for teenagers, is the loss of their teenage years and all that entails.
About a year after his death, my wife was going through some of his things and found a list that truly struck home. It was a list of things that he had missed out on due to cancer. Here it is, just as he wrote it:
School – grades – can’t go to college when I want with my friends
Football – lost contact w/friends and was no longer involved in sports
Girls – have looked sick for almost 3 years (haven’t had hair, my face was swollen like a marshmallow)
Working out – can’t go to gym because of infection
Being in shape – lost all body strength, muscle, stamina
Having hair – my face changing
Girl friends – my friends stopped talking to me
Swimming – can’t swim because of transplant or because stretch marks look so bad
Running – I can’t get the breath or the energy to exercise
Senior spring break (the one thing I have looked forward to for the past four years)
Have to live at home instead of going to college first semester
Can’t go out of the country to Jamaica (infection)
Can’t eat out at restaurants or fast food or certain foods from store
Couldn’t go skiing (my favorite thing in the world to do)
Stretch marks – the one thing cancer has caused that won’t go away and the one that most bothers me. (people stare and ask “What happened to you?”)
Brad underwent a stem cell transplant in April 2003. After getting a rhinovirus (common cold), he passed away on May 23, 2003, just five days before his high school graduation. He was and is a beautiful soul and we miss him terribly.
About September & CURE’S Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time:
September is recognized as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This September, CURE Childhood Cancer has committed to raising awareness and raising money to help find a cure for childhood cancer in our lifetime and put an end to this terrible disease through a special program CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time!
Please help us in our goal of raising $30,000 in the month of September while honoring special CURE kids each day of the month who have been affected by childhood cancer.
For more information, please click here.
About CURE Childhood Cancer:
Founded in 1975, CURE Childhood Cancer is dedicated to conquering childhood cancer through research, education and support of patients and their families. Since its establishment as a grass-roots organization, CURE has focused its efforts on improving the care, quality of life, and survival rate of children with cancer.
The founders, parents and a dedicated pediatric oncologist, joined forces to support laboratory research that would translate into immediate care for children with cancer.
Since that time, CURE has raised millions of dollars to fund cutting edge research at the Aflac Cancer Center Blood Disorders Service at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University School of Medicine.
Through innovative programming, CURE also provides support for stricken families, providing them comfort and support during their time of devastating need.
Donate to Brad’s Fund
Visit us online at www.curechildhoodcancer.org for more information.