Wish-granting volunteer Jen Faley has dedicated 16 years to helping local children with critical illnesses replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope. Recently, her family had its own health scare that gave her just a glimpse of what wish families go through. Here’s her story:
“My family has just gone through our own health scare that rocked us to our core. We noticed some unusual lumps toward the back of our eight-year-old son’s neck recently, so we scheduled a doctor's visit to have them checked out. They drew blood and sent us on for an ultrasound the next day.
We all had some trepidation ... I think once we know these special families we serve, we cannot help but put ourselves in their position asking, 'Is this the day that our lives will change forever?'
I was trying to stay positive.
We had an ultrasound appointment that was very concerning. There were lots of doctors asking lots of questions. They looked well beyond my son’s neck into his full lymph node system, including his spleen. I could tell by the concern on the main doctor's face that this was not our last step. He quickly cleared his calendar and said we would be doing a fine needle aspiration procedure. I was very nervous for my little guy.
They told us to come back in an hour. So we did. My son became increasingly anxious. They would first give him a shot to numb the area (with a gigantic needle) and then extract some tissue to send in for testing.
Once he was in the room, his panic set in. ‘Please don't do this,’ he cried, over and over again.
He cried through the whole thing. He was in pain and scared and as a mom you just feel so helpless. The whole thing left both of us very emotional and exhausted.
Then there was nothing to do but wait. He was really sore and swollen and couldn't even be talked into ice cream. We came home to rest.
Once home and in another room, all the cancer ideas that were swimming around lightly in my mind came crashing down. Why were they so concerned? What other answers could there be? The procedure was terribly traumatic for an eight-year-old. They would not have done it if there was not some real concern.
Breathe. Just breathe.
We continued to wait. And jump every time the phone rang. Finally, I got the call that all cancer tests were negative. There were more cancer words in that phone call than I ever care to hear at once. What a relief.
But all of the families we serve did not get that call. Today went different for them. Those procedures go on all day every day for all of our kiddos.
These families have strength that is supernatural! May we remember each day what their real journey is!
And on that day when we feel like we can't give any more, help us to rise up! To make one more call! To serve one more family! To give a little more for all that they have gone through.
Help us to remember what this journey could look like and truly recognize what we are so lucky not to fight each day! This life is a gift! May I serve others in it every day!
Thank you to everyone who dedicated themselves and their work to this special cause. I am here soldiering on with you, bringing my friends and my family along to serve as many of these families as we can!”
Every day, at least one child in Alaska and Washington gets the call that Jen’s family dreaded. And not all of these children are receiving wishes. You can help change that.