This is Colby, an amazing little boy who has been fighting Leukemia for most of his short life. Yesterday I was invited to his 5th birthday party, held quite a few weeks after his actual birthday. He turned 5 years old whilst in isolation in hospital recovering from a stem cell transplant. Yesterday he was well enough to have a celebration with his family and a few special friends and helpers.
I don’t know Colby very well, or his beautiful mother Belinda. They came to my attention through one of my daughters a few months ago when she first had the wonderful idea to miss out on her Year 12 Formal dinner/dance, and instead donate the substantial amount of money usually spent on this 'end of school' event to help Colby and his Mum with his enormous on-going medical costs. Colby's Mum was able to buy him the trampoline he needs to slowly strengthen his weakened muscles from months of lying in a hospital bed.
Looking into Colby’s eyes in an unguarded moment through my camera lens yesterday, I was struck by the depths within. His very young eyes hold so much wisdom from experiences that he should not have to have undergone at his tender age – sadness, frustration, detachment, tolerance, and a certain resignation that can only be gained from much pain and suffering. His rare smiles of joy when interacting with other children at his party lit up his face and eyes, and gave him the look of an angel, which he most certainly is!
Leukemia is cancer of the blood, and the most common cancer in children, affecting thousands of children under the age of 5 worldwide each year. The incidence of childhood leukemia is steadily increasing and the need for research into its causes is urgent. The much improved survival rate for childhood leukemia is certainly one of the greatest medical success stories of the last century, but one in five children still lose their lives to the disease and many survivors are left with serious long-term side effects as a result of the intensive, and often radical, treatments used to save their young lives.
There are ways for all of us to help in the fight against childhood leukemia – by donations of money or time to fund-raising for Childhood Leukemia Research through organizations set up in major hospitals all over the world, by donations to assist with medical costs for an individual child, or in a more personal way, by extending emotional support to a family in our community struggling with the life-changing ordeal of caring for a very sick child.
Colby’s Mum has set up a Facebook page to record his journey.