One week ago tonight Ginger and I were told our son had leukemia. We are still in shock. The doctor said our lives would never be the same, and we believe him. As hard as it was hearing the diagnosis, nothing was as hard as passing along that terrible news to him. He was devastated.
In the last week our little man has been told he has cancer, has had surgery to implant a catheter in his chest, has had two blood transfusions, three chemotherapy treatments, and a dozen doses of steroids. His emotions have been haywire.
But Harrison’s first encounter with cancer didn’t happen last Friday.
Several years ago his little cousin, Eli Aaron, was diagnosed with T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It was the first time I’d personally been touched by childhood leukemia, although a high school classmate of mine died from the disease as an older teenager.
Harrison, and our family, has prayed regularly and often for Eli and for his parents (my cousin Maureen McKinion Aaron and her husband). We’ve wept over his struggle with the disease. But never did we think we’d walk the path he has trod since May 19, 2009.
Since then we’ve not only prayed for Eli, but we have donated to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation in his honor, helping Bill and John Cook raise money to fight childhood cancers. Little did we know that perhaps this spring it will be his bald head shown on the big screen.
We were watching the Senior Bowl on television in January and were shocked to see Eli show up on TV. The players were visiting the South Alabama Children’s Hospital and went into Eli’s room. My kids yelled with delighted when they saw him. Harrison was especially fond of praying for “little Eli,” as he called him.
A year ago we saw Eli. He looked great. He told us about his duck call: “I blow this and ducks come to me.” Dozens of times my children have said that when we were preparing to pray for him. They love that little guy.
Last night I knelt beside my son’s bed for the first time since his cancer diagnosis. As I prayed for him I also prayed with him for Eli’s continued recovery. After a week of every prayer being for Harrison, Blakely, Lachlan, and Ginger, it was strangely refreshing to pray for someone else. Maybe it was easier because Eli is family. Maybe being in a familiar place–on my knees beside my son’s bed–meant I could fall into the habit of praying for Eli again.
But I like to think that our ability to honestly pray for the well-being of another child with cancer was a step in the healing of our own hearts. God has indeed done great things for us, for our family, and I trust that as he heals our hearts he will give us the grace to do for other as we would have them do for us. Ginger and I want both to know the mercy of God and to show the mercy of God. And it is only by his grace that can happen. We want our children to enjoy the Gospel of Jesus in this way as well.
Just a so many people have been kind to us with their gifts, so too do we want to pass that kindness on to others. We trust that God’s work in our family will enable us to be a conduit of his work in other families.
As you pray for Harrison, you can pray specifically for three things:
1) that he not develop any infection.
2) that the steroids and chemo will produce their intended result: remission
3) that in everything we might demonstrate the goodness of our Lord, so that others might say, “the Lord has done great things for them.”
We love and appreciate you, and do not take your generosity for granted.