You Can Help Eradicate Childhood Cancer with Aflac® and #Duckprints - Kevin's Story (Our brother!) | Occasionally Crafty: You Can Help Eradicate Childhood Cancer with Aflac® and #Duckprints - Kevin's Story (Our brother!)

Monday, December 15

You Can Help Eradicate Childhood Cancer with Aflac® and #Duckprints - Kevin's Story (Our brother!)

We're taking a break from our holiday posts today to share a more personal post with you.  Laura and I are writing this post together (Laura's thoughts are in italics). Read on to find how you can give a super easy but important gift for the holidays:

I was just eight when my brother got sick.  Laura was five or six.  It started as an ear infection.  A sinus infection.  Strep throat.  My brother's immune system was shutting down and it was clear to my parents and his doctor that something was wrong.

When my mom sobbed the word "cancer", I didn't really understand what it was.  I only knew that it was something terrible if it made my my mom cry.

Kevin was eleven when he was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (or ALL).  "Acute" means it can spread rapidly, and if not treated, would be fatal within months.  I learned later in life that my brother's chances for survival were initially very low- only a 1% chance.

Now as a parent, I understand that hearing that must have killed my parents.  Even now, it makes my heart hurt.

I watched as my brother went from a healthy, robust, athletic blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy, to a skinny waif of a child with no hair at all.  

My parents tried to keep our lives as normal as possible, but I still remember lots of hours at the hospital, constant hospitalization of my brother for little things, missing special events because Kevin was or might become more ill, and not being able to play the way we used to.  

Hi! It's Laura. Valerie's right, I was only 5 when Kevin was diagnosed. I don't know if you remember much from when you were 5, but I have some very poignant memories of how this affected our family. My memories may seem a bit random, but I think it shows how it can change the life of everyone involved. 

My very first memory is visiting Kevin in the hospital after he had started Chemotherapy. I'm sure my parents warned me that he would look different, but words can't describe what your eyes actually see. I remember talking with him, feeling very nervous, and then a clump of his hair fell down from his head right in front of me. It scared me a lot.

I remember going to a church Christmas party and the whole congregation made cards for Kevin.

I remember donating blood, and a lot of it. See, I am a perfect match for Kevin. If he ever needs a Bone Marrow Transplant, I am his gal! My mind brings back visions of a long row of vials of blood to share.

I also remember leaving Valerie's favorite stuffed animal at the playroom in the hospital. I may never live it down! And I even remember playing Pac-Man on a big game machine, and wetting my pants b/c I didn't want to stop playing!

Kevin beat the impossible odds and survived!  He is a (mostly) healthy adult, though he will never be free from the side effects of the cancer and what they had to do to treat it.  We are blessed to still have our brother alive and well.  It doesn't always turn out that way.

At a "cancer camp" for cancer patients and their siblings, I met a girl named Abby.  She had Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a different type of cancer.  She became a good friend and a great pen pal!  We moved to Illinois a few years after I met Abby, and her letters stopped coming.  I finally opened a letter with a return address from her hometown, expecting to finally hear from my friend.  I burst into tears as I read the heart-stopping news that Abby's cancer had returned, and that she had lost the fight and passed away.

I knew that "but for the grace of God", my brother could be taken from us just as Abby was taken from her family.  I don't know why Kevin was blessed to survive when Abby didn't, and despite advances, doctors don't really know either. Childhood cancer is a monster that must be stopped.  

Our little cousin Ethan is now fighting the same cancer at the same hospital, a generation apart. Here's a great article about their shared experience .  

His prognosis- 96% chance of survival.  

It's been several years and he is doing great! Advances have been made, but not enough.  Let's do what we can to eradicate childhood cancer before the next generation has to go through the same thing!

As a "cancer family", we want you to know about #Duckprints.  Aflac is committed to the fight against childhood cancer, and has raised more than $93 million with the goal of reaching $100 million by the end of 2015.

To honor the unsung heroes of pediatric cancer, Aflac created the Duckprints award.  
  • Duckprints champions these heroes who have left their footprint in this important cause through ceremonies at childhood cancer hospitals, user-generated nominations on and in social media. 
  • The goal of Duckprints is to generate a groundswell of excitement that will result in an increase in both donations and awareness, with the ultimate mission of eradicating childhood cancer.

Now you too can leave YOUR footprint in the fight against childhood cancer! Here’s how:

All of the net proceeds from Duckprints merchandise – like the annual Holiday Duck, which is available at participating Macy’s or at aflacduckprints.comgo to hospitals treating childhood cancer in the U.S.  
Aflac will also give an additional $2 to the Aflac® Cancer Center for every post, share, tweet, or re-tweet that uses the #Duckprints hashtag on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.  
You can follow the Aflac Duck on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! (@AflacDuck )

  • The Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is one of the 
  • largest childhood cancer centers in the country. 
  • The Aflac Cancer Center is committed to providing childhood cancer patients a brighter future through 
  • advanced medical treatment, family-centered care, a child-friendly environment and innovative research.
  • Here's an Aflac Cancer Center Survivor Story: 
Austin Freeman was born on April 20, 2003. Shortly after his tenth birthday, he hurt his back and went to the doctor with persistent pain. The doctor took x-rays and thought it was likely a bruise from a fall he had taken. Austin then told the doctor that he had been experiencing pain in his groin area as well. The doctor initially attributed it to the fall and Austin started to head home with his mom.. Before leaving the parking lot, the cell phone rang. It was the nurse, saying the doctor didn’t feel comfortable not giving a full examination of the groin area. They went back in, did x-rays and discovered the mass, which unfortunately was diagnosed as Ewing Sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. 
    Austin was treated at the Aflac Cancer Center in Atlanta Georgia, where he received numerous doses of chemotherapy and radiation. Thankfully, after a very difficult year, Austin has been cancer free since March of 2014. 

    Our thoughts and prayers are with Austin and his family!

    We'd consider it a personal favor if you would take the time to participate in the #Duckprints campaign.  It's easy and you're already on social media anyway!  Please, spread the word!

    Have you or a family member been affected by childhood cancer?  We'd love to hear your stories.  

    I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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    1. Wow, I had no idea that Aflac even had a program like that! I will be checking into purchasing some of their merchandise, the holiday duck is adorable! Thank you for sharing such an amazing program!

    2. Thanks for spreading the word about this important cause. Childhood cancer is just so tragic.

    3. Very touching story:) I've heard about Aflac before.

    4. Thanks so much for making us aware... I will be sharing your story in my network to raise awareness and support.

    5. Your post is so touching. Thank you for spreading awareness about childhood cancer. I wasn't aware of Aflac's involvement. Sharing your post to help spread awareness :)

    6. Thank you for sharing such a personal story and getting the info about this program out to people that may not have ever known otherwise.

    7. What an incredible story and amazing journey your family has endured! I had no clue AFLAC was such a strong advocate for eradicating childhood cancer.

    8. What a wonderful cause that I was totally unaware of - thank you for sharing. Incredible story.

    9. This was such a touching and informative story. thank you so much for sharing.


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