Another Side to the Story
by Bob Crawford
Imagine this for a second; you have a three-month-old son who has colic, and then you get blindsided by the news that your 22-month-old daughter has cancer.
We here at Press On spend September telling our children’s stories, banging the drum, trying to raise awareness about pediatric cancer. But there is one side of the story that rarely gets told– it’s the one about our other children. The ones who didn’t get cancer but suffer just the same in other ways.
Those first three months of Sam’s life were a challenge. He had colic and didn’t sleep very well-crying for hours on end. Exhausted and at the end of her rope, Melanie wasn’t sleeping much either with while working to get Sam settled and on a schedule. When Hallie got sick, Melanie would go home a few hours a day to spend time with him and nurse him. However, in those early days, he was mostly cared for by aunts, uncles, and family friends while Melanie and I kept vigil at the hospital with his sister.
When the doctors in North Carolina told us they couldn’t help Hallie, we moved the family to Memphis, Tennessee so she could undergo treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Hallie’s treatment was unpredictable. Long days of infusions often led to extended hospital stays as the chemo weakened Hallie’s immune system. Thankfully we made new friends in Memphis like Ken and Angie Nix, kind and caring people who were more than happy to spend time with Sam. And so it went through our first six months at St. Jude.
Sam celebrated his first birthday at the Ronald McDonald House when Hallie’s journey brought us to an inpatient pediatric rehab in Charlotte. Then it was back to Memphis when her cancer returned just five months later. In the summer of 2013, we finally returned home for good.
Even though Hallie’s condition has been somewhat stable, the residual effects of her disease require she is in constant therapy and receiving additional treatments. For Sam, this has meant many hours sitting patiently in waiting rooms, or us trying to keep him out of the way while Hallie is in a therapy session.
Today Sam is six years old. He’s a first grader who loves Star Wars, Legos, and riding his scooter. Regardless of his sister’s disabilities, Sam does his best to play with her and include her in fun. Whether it’s a silly dance, or just rolling around on the floor like a crazy person, Sam knows how to make Hallie laugh. And when she doesn’t want to have her teeth brushed, Sam keeps her entertained so Mommy and Daddy can get her cleaned up and her ready for bed. You can tell by the way she looks at him that Hallie knows she has the best little brother in the world. Don’t get me wrong, they fight over toys, get in each other’s way, and intentionally annoy one another, like every other brother and sister. However, Sam shows compassion for Hallie and treats her with respect.
Sam makes our lives better in every way. He’s our heart and soul. We couldn’t do this without him. Sometimes, when my wife and I are busy doing things around the house, we can hear Hallie giggling in the other room. We watch them from the doorway playing like siblings are supposed to. Like cancer never happened. I can’t believe how much these two little kids have endured over the past six years, but I’m sure it’s the love they share that’s carried all of us through.
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