Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals via Mode Media. The following story is entirely my own and reflective of my actual experience.
As a parent, there is little that feels worse than being completely helpless when your child is hurting. And yet that is precisely the place my husband and I found ourselves in back in 2010 when our daughter was diagnosed with leukemia.
The process began innocently enough. She had a cold that took a little too long to clear, and swollen lymph nodes that just wouldn’t go away. Her pediatrician told us to keep an eye on her, and bring her back if things didn’t look better in a week. In that week, she tripped over a baby gate, sprained her ankle and developed a swollen lymph node on — of all places — her head. A lymph node that an ER doctor told us was just a cosmetic problem we shouldn’t worry about.
But I knew my daughter, and I knew she didn’t seem like herself. She’d been sick for weeks, and I wanted to know what was wrong. So I took her back to her pediatrician, who asked to do some blood tests. Within minutes, she came back with words that scared me probably more than anything else ever has in my life — she thought my daughter might have leukemia. She didn’t even let us go home. She immediately called our nearest Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and had them send an ambulance to come get us.
When we arrived at the hospital— as ridiculous as this might sound — I immediately knew we were in the right place. The staff welcomed us and did their best to explain everything in terms we could understand with a care that made it clear they had done the same before with the families of countless other children. They had a team whose job was specifically to focus on the kids. Not their physical health, but their mental well-being. They came in to distract our daughter with games and movies and funny stories and puppets and toys. She was four, so she didn’t really understand what was going on, but the combination of the doctors and nurses hovering around her and what had to be frightened looks on her parents’ faces couldn’t have been easy to handle.
Once the doctors confirmed her diagnosis and admitted her, we were left to figure out life now that cancer had come calling. I can honestly say that if it were not for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, we would’ve had a much, much harder time with that.
Their entire mission is working with children and their families who are going through the worst times of their lives, and they are absolutely amazing at it.
My daughter was admitted to the oncology unit. The doctors took the time to explain everything to my husband and I in detail, but in words we could understand, and they answered every question we could come up with, no matter how many times we had to ask. They allowed us to control what information we exposed to our daughter so that she never heard or knew more than we wanted her to know.
They kept her mind occupied with movies, video games, toys and a playroom next door. They indulged when she wanted to ask her own questions and wanted to watch intently whenever they had to take her blood pressure or more blood or any of a variety of tests. They brought in retired greyhounds just to put a smile on the kids’ faces. Never mind the fact that my daughter isn’t smiling in the photo above. She was ecstatic!
More important than all those details, though, is the fact that they just made us feel like we could — like we WOULD — get through it and find our “new normal.”
And we did. Within a week of starting treatment, she went into remission, and six years later, she still has not relapsed. My family owes a debt of gratitude to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals that we will never be able to pay. My daughter is now a 10-year-old healthy competitive gymnast who spends every day making me thankful that I get the chance to be her mother.
The very least I can do is to use my platform to tell the world how amazing they were for us and spread the word about what they need.
Quite simply, what they need is us and our charity. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals works to raise funds and awareness for 170 children’s hospitals in the U.S. and Canada, including Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. All told, they provide more than $3.5 billion in charitable care each year, including the purchase of life-saving equipment, research and all the intangibles that make children’s hospitals the type of places that offer magical care.
All of this means their need for donations is great. So please, put your money where the miracles are. Support your Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.