Thomas is a bright little seven year old. He's the son of a close friend, Ron Pacheco. And he's been diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer.
It all started with the discovery of a tumor that was behind his right eye. At first, it was believed to be benign and that all that had to be done was extract it. Thomas had that surgery a few weeks ago but since then, they have found it to be cancerous. The full name is "mesenchymal chondrosarcoma". Since it was so rare and recorded cases showed it affected middle-aged adults, the family requested another test be done. Sadly, it only verified the first.
As of this past Monday, the doctors are recommending the removal of the eye and surrounding tissues to prevent further growth. That, on top of a 6-month round of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. It is very serious and so very tragic.
After talking with Ron on Monday about this development, I was hurting-- I was imagining myself in Ron's place-- A father struggling to make everything OK for his little boy. The obvious words that filled my head were "why?" and "if I could only take his place". I wrote this poem with this mindset. Ron has asked that I post it here:
Please Lord, me instead.
Don't make him go through this.
I'd face the pain, the suffering, the dread.
Please not him, but me instead.
It tears me in two to know what is coming.
To know more trauma still lies ahead.
I'll take it all-- I'm older and stronger.
Give it to me, I'll bear it instead.
Chemo, sarcoma-- words a child should not know.
Now have to be taught-- explained-- understood.
I'm not prepared for once to teach him.
Afflict me with their meaning instead.
Give my tears of happiness for his tears of fear.
Give my prayers of thanks for his prayers to live.
I'd gratefully trade them if it would but cure.
Take them from me and grant him instead.
I pray for Your wisdom and what's best be done.
That he can be saved and come safely home.
I'll trust in You as a son trusts his father.
Not my will but Thy will instead.
Ron shared with me a day or so later that when they told Thomas about the possible loss of his eye, he was very mature about it. Unbelievably so. Instead of being scared out of his wits (I know I would have been), he was instead consoling his Mom and Dad! Both of whom were crying, having to tell their son such awful news. He actually said to them: "I know you guys wish you could have this and not me, but I'm glad it's me because I don't think it's so bad and wouldn't want you guys to have this." Amazing. He also said: "I'm not going to let this affect me. I'm just going to be Thomas and live my life like I would have anyway." Such bravery!
Within a few days of the original diagnosis, Ron approached me about an idea he had. Thomas is insured, but the medical costs of cancer treatment go well beyond what their insurance will cover. He had a brilliant idea: to create a web site for Thomas that would offer a means for friends, family and perhaps even strangers to donate to help fund Thomas's cancer treatments. Here's the address:
The beauty of it is that the whole site revolves around Thomas's hand-drawn art. Ron has collected almost a hundred various creations from Thomas over the years. He's going through and scanning them to place them on this web site for Thomas to allow people to purchase individual images or prints and in some cases the original artwork itself. Simple donations are also accepted for those that simply want to help. Other people's art will be available as well-- Ron and Taylor (Thomas's younger brother) are also represented. Thomas's class at school has also heard about this development and will be providing more artwork to go on the site.
Ron and I have been working on it the last couple or three weeks and it's finally online. I've been burning my candles on ends I didn't know existed. But the hard work has paid off and I hope it will benefit the family and Thomas in particular. Who knows-- perhaps this site could some day be used as a basis to help other families who have similar needs.
I urge you to spend some time at the site to get to know Thomas. And please, please spread the word however you can.