About a year ago I went through this phase where I lived in almost constant fear that something terrible would happen to Bubba. Either he would get sick, injured, but usually I visualized the worst. While I had no rational basis for this uneasiness, it was a feeling that I found hard to shake at the time. These attacks were most felt just after I went to bed as my mind wandered on the days events and other seeming nonsense. Even speaking with the Queen and her admitting she sometimes felt the same way about her own kids didn’t abate my worries. Eventually this suspicion subsided to something more like a mild apprehension which I’ll probably never rid myself of.
If you’re a parent you’re probably acquainted, to varying degrees, with this same feeling. We hear a story regarding some tragedy in another family and immediately run to our kids, give them a hug and tell them we love them. And for a few brief moments our priorities fall appropriately into place. But eventually life gets back in the way, the washer quits, a bill comes due, or our boss acts like a jerk and things get all swirly again.
In all of the years that I’ve known Lewis I can’t recall a moment that he wasn’t with, his now wife of 15 years, Paula. They are one of those enviable couples who were destined for one another. In their case, it seems, they were made for each other. Knowing him for nearly 2 decades, our initial work connection grew into a friendship, but as with many of those, life has a way of affecting them, people move, jobs change, and those connections somehow get lost. After loosing touch, it would be years before he and I reacquainted again. And finally just a few years ago our friendship resurfaced after that time underground and we have remained connected ever since.
Lewis and Paula’s life has been a fairytale. Lewis embarked on a fruitful career in the banking industry and four years into their marriage she gave birth to their first son Tanner who, it seems, inherited his father’s love of sports and his mothers facial features. For eight years it was just the three of them until Paula would give birth again to another baby boy Tavis. By all accounts Tavis is a fun-loving 3 year old who has a tireless affection of pirates and a passion for Cheetos. With locks of curly light-brown hair, just one look at him and its easy to understand why anyone would immediately eat him up with a spoon.
As a family of four things were going better than could be hoped for. Life, as they say, was good! Then in January 2011, just a few weeks before Tavi’s 3rd birthday, Lewis and Paula began to notice that his was losing his abundant energy, his appetite began to diminish, they started seeing unexplained bruises on his body, and all he really wanted to do was sleep. Being attentive parents they took him to his doctor who advised it was a case of the flu and not to worry. Medicine didn’t seem to have an effect so they went back two more times. During the last visit his doctor recommend they take a blood sample and see if there might be something more. Understandably anxious, Lewis and Paula were optimistic for a positive outcome. But those feelings were dashed when the results came back and indicated that their little man has leukemia.
The word places any parent into an immediate cold sweat. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), according to the National Cancer Institute, is “a cancer of the white blood cells, the cells in the body that normally fight infections. There are two main types of white blood cells—lymphoid cells and myeloid cells. ALL affects lymphoid cells. Leukemia cells are abnormal cells that cannot do what normal blood cells do. The abnormal cells are immature white blood cells that cannot help the body fight infections. For this reason, children with ALL often get infections and have fevers. A.L.L. is also called acute lymphocytic leukemia. It is the most common leukemia in children. Symptoms include:
In 1960 the life expectancy of a child with this illness was 6%, but with progress in medicine that number has improved to a staggering 85% and fortunately Tavi’s was caught just three weeks after the the first symptoms. Which was a blessing A.L.L. works fast, had they waited just a few weeks more it very well could have been too late.
Tavi was in the hospital for two straight weeks after the initial diagnoses. Lewis said he slept better when he was at the hospital than when he was at home knowing that his baby boy was there without him meant calls to the hospital at all hours of the night checking his status. Now Tavi sleeps at home more than he sleeps in a hospital bed, yet the chemotherapy doesn’t go unnoticed. He has a raging appetite – especially for Cheetos, a swollen stomach and face, and has started showing signs of losing those beautiful golden locks. Even now he often grabs onto daddy’s neck, not wanting to let go, when he sees what’s about to happen. Time and repetition doesn’t make it easier.
During all of this he and Paula have remained positive, surrounding themselves with wonderful family, friends, and a powerful faith in God; all while having a relaxed confident belief in Tavi’s doctors and nurses.
I find it’s very often these situations which cause people question the existence of God, asking “how can a God let this happen to a little boy?” But I believe only those in the middle of such circumstances have any right to this question. Lewis summed up his opinion like this “Tavi isn’t ours but belongs to God, we just have him for a very short time. I feel God has a plan, I just don’t know what that is.”
Paula has established a website for any interested in tracking the Tavi’s status and she keeps it updated regularly. To learn more and follow his progress click HERE.
I’m simply asking all readers of ChopperPapa to keep this family in their thoughts and pray that ,with God’s help, Tavi will send this leukemia to walk the plank!