By: Gen Chamblee

I used to see St. Jude’s commercials on tv and thought, “I can’t imagine what those parents are going through.” All the kids had the same look to them. They were bald and had something in their eyes that said, “help me.” I never dreamed that my child would end up looking like one of those kids. I am guilty of being one of those people who says, “cancer won’t touch us, it won’t happen to my child.”

The cemetery where my husband’s father is buried has a section called “The Garden of Angels” and when ever we went to visit his father, I never wanted to drive past that area because of how sad it made me feel that all of those children were gone. Again, I couldn’t imagine. Now my precious daughter is buried there.

How surreal it is. It’s mind boggling how life happens.

I still can not believe Sierra is gone. Some days I wake up and expect to hear her sweet, little voice in her bedroom. But then reality hits me that I will never see her face again. Never hear her voice, never see her smile, never give her kisses again. Cancer ripped her away from me. At night all I can do is lay there and replay the moment she passed over and over in my head. It’s in every way possible, complete torture.

Every time I walk by her empty room, it feels like someone is stabbing me in the heart. I read about her and choke up. It is truly the worst thing that anyone can go through. She will forever be 2 1/2 yrs old. Her pictures on the wall will never change, and all I have are the memories in my mind.

So many have asked me how I can start up a foundation so soon after Sierra passed? How could I go through pictures of her and sit down to write out her story? That I must be so strong to be able to do such a thing. You want to know how I did it? I’m not strong, I’m angry. Furious. I have never been so mad in my life at anything as I am at cancer. It messed with the wrong family this time.

I want the world to know who my beautiful Sierra was. I don’t want another parent to feel the pain I feel. The agonizing, ruthless pain of losing a child.

I have become a different person since January of 2010. I was introduced to the world of childhood cancer in the worst possible way. And now it’s my turn to do as much as possible to open the eyes of everyone who thinks it can’t happen to their child. Because guess what? IT CAN.

Pumping pure poison into childrens’ growing bodies is appalling. But you know what? It’s one of the only choices you have when the Dr. says, “your child has cancer.”

It’s so hard to fathom that only 3% of Federal cancer research money goes to childhood cancer. Neuroblastoma gets even less than that. Every single day 46 kids are diagnosed with cancer and 7 of them day each day. Neuroblastoma kills 1 child every 16 hours. And all we can get is 3%? Are you freakin’ kidding me?

Why are people so hesitant to give? I donated to St Jude’s numerous times before Sierra was ever diagnosed.

Cancer has no rhyme or reason. It doesn’t discriminate. Not one single person in this world is safe from it. It destroys everything good in this world, and it doesn’t care how old you are or how much money you have.

I get so angry when I think about it. People don’t realize how prevalent cancer is among children. It’s a world that people don’t want to think about. But it’s time everyone wakes the hell up and opens their eyes. Kids do get cancer and kids do die from it.

No one knows what Sierra went through on a daily basis.

Imagine a little girl no heavier than 20 lbs, on a ventilator for 3 ½ months, receiving enough sedation to kill an adult, blood transfusions two times a day, numerous chest tubes, addicted to narcotics, endless x-rays, scans, and IV pokes. Close your eyes and imagine huge amounts of poison being pumped through her veins, and adult poison at that. We have children’s Tylenol and children’s Benedryl, but after all these years, there is no such thing as a children’t chemo drug. Then she went through 9 ½ hours of surgery to extract this horrible thing. She battled pneumonia, and terrifying blood infections. And let’s also mention that she coded on two different occasions. To think though, Sierra never made it to stem cell transplant, radiation or antibody treatment. There were SIX pages of side effects for ONE chemo drug.

These kids fight for their lives, and then have to worry that the cancer doesn’t relapse. If it doesn’t – they truly survived. But, it’s not over. Now every day for the rest of their lives, they have to counter act all of the side effects from treatment. And then on top of that, they still have to worry about secondary cancer. But you want to know what was truly amazing about Sierra and all of these children? They smile every step of the way.

Childhood cancer is real people. You don’t want to have to learn about it the hard way like I did. You don’t want wait & be holding your child in your arms as they draw their last breath to wake up and fight back.

It’s totally unacceptable.

My child was not one of the lucky ones. And unfortunately, many of them aren’t.

But are you ready to open your eyes?


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