We partnered with Northwestern Mutual on this post.
We had what many would see as the perfect life. Married with two young boys. A beautiful rural home with picturesque views and the calming peace that nature can bring to a person. The biggest nuisance we had to deal with was the morning sickness that I was experiencing after finding out only weeks earlier that I was expecting our daughter. It wasn’t only picture perfect from the outside, but it was everything my husband and I had dreamed of.
Then our life got turned upside down. Our son, Isaac, only 17 months old, fell ill with what we thought was a stubborn ear infection. One round of antibiotics, two rounds, then three and nothing seemed to give him relief. Then our pediatrician ran bloodwork and what it revealed was concerning. Enough that he sent us immediately to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. After days of tests, our picture perfect world became a web of uncertainty when we heard the words “your child has cancer”. Leukemia to be exact.
Childhood cancer is a fear unlike anything you’ve ever known when the unimaginable happens to you and your family. It is watching your once vibrant baby boy refuse to eat from nausea, stop walking because of the extreme pain, and having to hand him over to people you have never met as they place ports, poke and prod too many times to count, and administer a necessary poison to save your child’s life. It is middle of the night car rides for over an hour to the emergency room because any fever could kill your child.
All you can do when faced with childhood cancer is take it one day at a time. Enjoy all the moments that you may have taken for granted before. Speaking from experience, organizations like Northwestern Mutual and their Childhood Cancer Program provide so much more than the tangible family and patient support of their mission. Launched in 2012, this program leverages nonprofit partners, including camps and retreats, to help more kids and families live life to the fullest. They provide an opportunity for families to find time and reason to smile again. Events like the Rose Buds Campout on the Field, which Northwestern Mutual co-hosted with the Rose Bowl Stadium and Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation, give these kids something to look forward to, something special that they get to do that is unique to them, rather than just being set apart by their IV poles and battle scars. At the Campout on the Field, 200 kids and their parents (total) got to spend a night under the stars at the Rose Bowl Stadium field; what child doesn’t want to brag to their friends about something like that! And what an amazing way to help these families restore a little bit of their childhood that they lose so much of during their treatment.
Yet there are often times in the midst of treatment when these children are not healthy enough to be able to be exposed to such large groups of people or even be outdoors. For this reason, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation is creating indoor camp experiences. Through July 23, you can go to www.nmcampvote.com to vote for an iconic venue where you would most want to camp out! For every 25,000 votes cast, Northwestern Mutual will grant an indoor camp experience to a pediatric cancer unit. Think of all the children who could be touched with just a simple click of a button!
Our son, Isaac, is now a happy and healthy 7-year-old boy. He will be going to first grade this year and you would never know what he went through by looking at him. And for that we are grateful. But it will always be a part of who he is, the good and the bad times. There are still many tears; When memories hit, when we lose a young friend, and when we think of those that are still battling this beast we call cancer. But, thanks to programs such as this, there are also many reasons to smile. Memories made when meeting other families at these events and giving all of these kids a reason to smile and laugh and just be kids again. Thank you doesn’t seem to be enough for Northwestern Mutual, but we will say it anyways because without the support, we don’t know where we would be today.
Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI (NM) and its subsidiaries. Learn more at northwesternmutual.com