Camryn was 2 years old when she was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer, called Hepatoblastoma. Before that, she was a happy, healthy little angel. Her mother (Jamie) and father (Shane) would watch with satisfied content as Camryn’s older sister (Gabbi, then 12) and brother (Conner, then 10) would tickle her to submission. She was a typical 2-year-old who loved watching Peppa Pig, dancing to music and sitting on her father’s lap early in the morning listening to the birds sign their beautiful love songs outside of the window.
It was Halloween, 2014. Camryn was not herself, suddenly having fevers and complaining of pain. Her months long excitement to dress up as a princess riding a horse to collect candy with her family was tossed aside for the comfort of her bed. Something was wrong, her mother demanded answers.
Something happens to people when they hear, “there is a mass”. Most people can relate to the physical reaction you could have from the news that your child has cancer. Those who experience it, know the fear, the doubt, the disbelief. You know life is suddenly different, you just don’t know how it will turn out.
Camryn was in the hospital for most days that November and December, however, it was the end of the first week when her parents told her siblings (after it was confirmed cancer). We were all standing around the bed, the priest was in the room. Camryn’s father looked at everyone in the room, and then Gabbi and Conner, and said, “your sister has cancer”. The response will forever stay in that room, but the hope lost would be recovered.
Over the next 6 months, our family and our hope was tested. Camryn’s first round of chemo made her very ill. She spent 28 days straight in the hospital without leaving. With every strand of hair lost, our hope was strained. With every test and poke and blood transfusion and procedure and things better left untold, our faith strained. How can this happen to a beautiful, 2 year-old angel?
During that time, Camryn never asked why. When the doctors came for blood, she’d extend her arm. When it was time for medicine, she took it. She laughed, she played when she could, she loved, she cried, she tried, she did. Camryn never lost, Camryn. She also didn’t lose her sister back in that room. Or her brother. Or her Mom and Dad. Camryn’s courage unified an already solid family. We all had a mission, and that was to live, all of us, together. And we did.
We played when we could. We laughed a lot. We cried a lot. We never stopped being us. Life was different, sure. We were living in a hospital. When we wanted to give up, we didn’t. There was Camryn, she was the one with all the poking and prodding, but she never changed from being Camryn, and because of that her father never lost faith, and her mother never lost site and her sister never lost love and her brother never lost hope. We found a way through Camryn’s strengths, and through the love of each other.
Today, Camryn skips, literally, skips instead of walking. Life is, the way it always was. A family bound by love and the strength of an angel. The only thing that is different today is that our hope was tested and we went through heck to find it on the other side. The birds still sing, the music still plays, but today it just sounds a little sweeter."