I have never had to wish that my child didn’t have a chronic illness. I have never had to hope and pray that cancer left my baby’s body. I have never pleaded to switch places or longed for the feeling of true happiness that was lost at diagnosis.
But my sister has.
While her wishes are still on the “to be granted” list right now, we have placed the healing of my nephew, Bray, in God’s hands and feel confident that He will deliver. In the meantime, I am excited to report that our Bray was chosen to have a wish come true through Make-A-Wish.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation has a mission to create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. They are convinced “… if the impossible can happen once, kids can believe in their ability to live with or even overcome their illnesses.”
Bray was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in September 2017. Since then, he has been on daily chemotherapy. CML is treated with a different chemo than what most other childhood cancers are treated with. Since he has not lost any hair (in fact he grew out a fabulous afro instead), and has not been bedridden or stuck in the hospital for days at a time, we have often times been told by friends and family that he is “lucky” or that he has the “good” kind of cancer.
Just a news flash: There is no good cancer. It all sucks. And his is no different. While this amazing almost 11-year-old shines with positivity, the chemo comes with some negative effects on his body. Pushing through the nausea and fatigue like a champ on the outside, his kidneys (which break down most of the chemo) are showing rising creatinine levels. As of now, we remain hopeful that they will lower or level out so other treatment plans do not have to be looked at.
Because the chemo treatment plan he is on right now is working! Praise God! While the goal is to get to complete molecular response, he is on his way as he has reached deep molecular response. This means that the chemo is treating the leukemia and killing the cancer cells. However, he still has random cancer cells in his body so he will remain on the chemo for at least a few years after he reaches complete molecular response. Then, they will “trial” him off of it.
In the meantime, our football-loving dude picked to go to the Pro Bowl for his wish. To any football-challenged people (like myself), it is basically an all-star game for the NFL. From a limo picking him up, to flights, hotel and most importantly seeing pretty much all of his favorite players on the field together, it will truly be like a dream come true for him. If he gets a chance to meet any of them — especially James Conner who beat Hodgkin’s Lymphoma while playing in college — he will be so stoked.
And this kid deserves it! Seriously, if you met him, you would never know he has cancer. His outlook on life and the challenge before him can motivate anyone. Between his parents, siblings, family and friends, he has had an outpouring of love and prayers — which we so appreciate. None more so than from Lauren Cunningham, a young local girl who also was diagnosed with leukemia.
From letters, cards and random check-ins, Lauren is always looking out from Bray. And not only Bray, this girl is doing big things in the community and afar. From collecting Christmas cards for sick kids all over the world to her most recent project, the “Team Lauren” blood donation drive which is noon-6 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Red Cross Chapter House. Her hope is to have 100-plus people to donate, so please make sure you get there!
Like Bray, Lauren also had a wish granted by Make-a-Wish in 2016 when they sent her to Disney World. Of course, the ultimate wish for both of these two young kids is to be completely healed forever from any form of the “C” word, yet I am so grateful for the Make-A-Wish Foundation that allows their “second wish” to come true in the meantime.
While Bray is soon off to a magical football place where he can forget about cancer and experience his dream, my sister gets to let her guard down and relish in the making of his happiest memories. And we, as a family (please join us), will keep on wishing, praying and relying on our faithful Father.
After all, “Faith is confidence in what we hope [wish] for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV).
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.