Last week, I met a woman and her son at a luncheon… her name is MOM. This is her story:
Evan’s Mom told us her story and what Vannie Cook Cancer Clinic did for Evan and her family. As she spoke, her voiced cracked a few times and tears rolled down her face… Evan stood by her patting her back trying to comfort her. These are the stories, these are the families that YOU help. Please read her speech and see the other children of Vannie Cook Cancer Clinic at the end of this post.
Mom that’s my name I don’t have any other name but mom. I remember the first time hearing doctors and nurses calling me mom, it seemed odd to me, having grown adults calling me mom…But that’s who I am …Mom.
In November of 2010, around Thanksgiving time, my son Evan got the flu. We gave him Tamiflu and after five days when he was still sick, I took him back to his pediatrician. The pediatrician told me we had to go right away to the hospital. Evan needed to be admitted into ICU …this sense of urgency or fear a sort of internal siren went off! I remember I wanted to run… I wanted to grab Evan and leave …drive far away and never look back. I was scared …The “mom” inside me knew there was something wrong.
The next morning I met a doctor who said, mom I’m Dr. Bernini, as he introduced himself …. By that evening the same doctor would say the words that would shatter my world as I knew it: MOM YOUR SON HAS LEUKEMIA.
Cancer? leukemia? The word paralyzed me, I heard it but was it a dream ..more like a nightmare? I recall I couldn’t feel my legs …I was weak… and before I knew it I was sitting. You can’t even see what’s going on around you because your eyes are blurred from the tears that won’t stop coming … Family members, they mean well, are researching … And emailing you information on St. Jude and other treatment options. You are trying to be a mom and just comfort your son but you have to get him well too … Fast. Between the blurred vision, the advice coming from every direction, and the feeling of being paralyzed …the only thing I do remember .. Is feeling Dr. Bernini grab my hand and hearing him say, Mom I promise to do all that I can to save your sons life.
I have 3 children 2 daughters who are now 10 & 8 and my son Evan 5 yrs old. Cancer is a beast and doesn’t just pick on one he picks on the entire family. His sisters quickly saw the change of Evan’s once terrible two’s personality become more like that of an 80 year old mans. Our daughter’s needed my husband and I …and we all needed each other more than ever.
Evan battled leukemia for over 3 years … He was bald, had surgeries, port infections, fevers, hospital ICU sick stays, side effects from chemo, went bald …Grew hair … threw up …a lot …slept …a lot, slept none – on steroids … Got swollen, gained weight, then got much too thin …. None of the things I imagined for my only son … Nothing a mom would ever imagine for their child. Cancer is a nightmare for the entire family …and I would be lying if I said I never had nightmares of Dr. Bernini calling me to tell me Evan’s counts are off. It lurks… and haunts our family. So as a mom one can only imagine how helpless Cancer can make you feel.
To be in McAllen not so far from where we live in Harlingen, has been such a blessing for that reason. If I didn’t have Vannie Cook Clinic, I don’t know how I would have dealt with still being a mom of 3 and a wife. Life keeps coming at you … During the almost 4 years of treatment Evan had, there are birthdays, deaths in the family, siblings with colds, car batteries that die and of course bills to be paid. LIFE. Imagine being behind on your mortgage then finding out your AC is shot, its 92 degrees in your house, and the fridge decides to go out too …your house smells of spoiled food …. But the worst part your son has a 102 fever and pneumonia and needs to go to the hospital. It’s not a doctor’s visit it’s a hospital stay when you have Cancer … And can be life or death. If you didn’t feel completely helpless during this entire time well now you feel as if life is picking on you And U want to just scream out …what more do you want ?! . That day I wanted to throw my hands in the air and just give up -I felt guilt knowing my son Evan never gives up….I called and talked to a nurse at Vannie cook, and then confided in the social worker, Yadhira … Some days she’s the only person that can get anything out of me because I’m just so drained …. Yadhira, the social worker was able to find resources that helped us pay for a new motor that fixed our AC and located financial assistance that helped us make a payment to our mortgage company within days. Evan stayed in the hospital for 4 days and thanks to the clinic’s social worker, I was able to keep focus on just him. It was our saving grace … And believe me when I say there’s no way to get through this long journey without that grace.
I remember the first time I walked into The Vannie Cook Clinic and I looked around. There were bald children and nurses and it seemed like a friendly atmosphere but I remember thinking … We don’t belong here. My son doesn’t belong here. Today I stand here and tell you that I am Mom …but in a matter of days that changed …somewhat. …I am a mom with a son who has/had cancer. As you look around this room… really look at the moms, the dads… who have a son or daughter who has cancer … We were once like everyone else.
My name is Mom and my family is part of The Vannie Cook Clinic…my son belongs at The Vannie Cook Clinic, it’s the place where we feel safe …. God bless Dr. Bernini, Dr. Erana, Dr. Ramirez, Ruthann and all the nurses and staff… God bless you all for being here … And God bless The Vannie Cook Clinic.
If you would like to help and donate to the Vannie Cook Cancer Clinic, please follow the link here: DONATE
To learn more about the Vannie Cook Cancer Clinic, please follow this link: www.vanniecookchildrensclinic.org
Mom and Me
I admire her bravery and hope that more can be done so that no mother ever has to face this ever again.
Celebration of Heroes Fashion Show
The children of VCCC modeled fashions from Zoodles in McAllen. At the end of the show, Zoodles announced that each of the children could keep the clothes they were styled in. I wish you could have seen their faces!!! They were so excited.
These are the children: