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September 2, 2015

September: The Fall of Cancer

(Pictured: Two years after being diagnosed with cancer, 11-year-old Bayleigh Phillips flashed her pearly whites for the camera at the 2008 VW Cruisin’ for a Cure Event.  Left to Right: Melissa Saylor, Laura Lee Wheeler, Bayleigh Phillips, Dixie Phillips  and Johnny Phillips.)

By Melissa Saylor, LPN

For some September represents the Fall season, the leaves changing, Friday night football, SEC Football, cooler weather, and so on… However, September to me represents so much more.

September represents and honors children across the world who are fighting a battle no child should ever have to fight. This battle is called CANCER! September 1st kicks off one of the most important months of the year. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

As you read this, Childhood Cancer exists and it continues to creep into the lives of so many children and their families. Forty-six children are diagnosed each day  in America with some form of Childhood Cancer and 479 children are diagnosed each day across the world.

Growing up, I learned just how precious life was when a dear friend of mine, a fellow cheerleader, was diagnosed with Leukemia. I can remember how we rallied and stood by her as she fought the most important fight of her life. I go back to this moment and remember praying so hard for a cure. After all of the hard work we put in trying to raise funds for medical expenses, bone marrow transplants and praying for a cure, Veronica lost her battle to Leukemia. She was taken from her loving friends and family on June 13, 1991, two days before her 15th birthday. Although it was 24 years ago, losing my best childhood friend to cancer changed and impacted my life forever.

On November 30, 2006, cancer came crashing in to another life of a very special young lady and her family. At 9-years-old, Bayleigh Phillips, was diagnosed with an Inoperable Brain Tumor.  Today, Bayleigh is still fighting her battle with cancer. Although Bayleigh is still fighting this hard battle, she does not let it get in her way. Bayleigh is a proud Gadsden City High School Graduate and this fall she will be attending Jacksonville State University. I am so proud of the strong woman she has become and I am excited for her to embark on her new journey as a college freshman.

Over the past nine years, I have had the privilege of meeting several different families all with one thing in common: a child with cancer. Since I began my journey with Comfort Care Hospice of Gadsden, I have seen the other side to Childhood Cancer and the devastation families experience from this horrible disease.

Prior to Comfort Care Hospice, it was more on a personal level and I would have never thought that a child would ever require hospice care, but yes, this is reality. I have watched children fight for every moment, every breath and every minute up until the very end. I have sat beside a mom and a dad holding on to every second they had left with their gift from God, their precious child.

In these moments, I can remember every emotion and feeling powerless. Through these horrible situations, I have to remind myself that God directed me to cross paths with each of these families. It is very rewarding to know that God chose me to help guide these families during their hardship and time of need.

Honestly, it is those moments I will never forget and there will never be a day that goes by that I will not remember. This is every reason for me to continue to help raise awareness for Childhood Cancer. It is about one voice multiplying in to many voices.

It is time for everyone to have a voice and to join in and let their voice be heard! It is time for everyone to GO GOLD during the month of September to honor Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. By joining, not only are you honoring the children who are fighting cancer everyday but you are also honoring each and every child that has lost their battle to cancer. STAND UP! HAVE A VOICE! SUPPORT CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS MONTH! #GOLDsquad