Well, boys and girls, this past week was most definitely something folks in the media refer to as a “busy news week.” Between the Steve Spurrier’s “resignation” announcement, Steve Sarkisian and Randy Edsall’s termination and Will Grier’s failed drug test, the stories have practically written themselves. It’s been an all-you-can eat buffet for sports commentators, plenty of talking points and topics to debate, enough to fill everyone’s time slots and columns.
Like most, I, too, have formed my own opinions on all of the above, and like most, I have probably invested too much time and energy discussing the stories with friends and family. But, the topics warranted the extra attention and will no doubt continue to be talking points well into the off -season. Right now, though, I have something more important to share with you. Something that means more to me than a failed drug test or a disappointing season.
It’s the story about a boy named Xander.
My husband has known Xander’s father, Brian, since the 5th grade, and over the years, we have become very close with both he and his wife, Denise. We have shared weddings, birthdays, holidays and the annual pig roast at their house ─ which is really just an excuse to get everyone together to drink Brian’s homemade beer!
Like us, Brian and Denise have two children: The youngest is a little girl, and the oldest a 8-year-old named Xander. Our children have known each other since birth, and while we could always have made a little more time to get the families together, we consider them some of our closest friends.
For Brian and Denise, the last eight months have been the most difficult of their lives. It’s been a living hell because on February 12th, a doctor told them their son had a brain tumor. While doctors were able to remove 98% of the tumor, 2% remained embedded in Xander’s brain stem and spinal fluid ─ he was ultimately diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of Medulloblastoma.
Xander is only 8-years-old, and words like chemotherapy, radiation and gene-targeted therapy are a part of his daily vocabulary. He should be in school, running around on the playground bragging to his friends about what he’s going to be for Halloween. Instead, he’s in a hospital fighting for his life.
As a parent of young children, my mind is unable to fully grasp the emotions my friends undoubtedly experienced when they heard the word cancer. And, I have no way to remotely understand the fear and helplessness they feel trying to protect their baby from a disease they can’t control. But, what Brian and Denise have been able to control is their strength.
While most marriages might fall apart in such a devastating time, their love for each has seemingly strengthened. Despite the adversity, they continue to use words like power, confidence and miracle…even during some of the most difficult hours. Brian and Denise have also unselfishly remained committed to updating their family and friends on Xander’s condition and continue to express their gratitude for the prayers that, according to Brian, have “kept us going and have the power to help make miracles happen.”
This past Sunday morning, Xander was admitted to the hospital after having a severe seizure. He was heavily sedated and intubated so doctors could remove fluid from his brain. As difficult as it was to type the words, Brian wrote this on his Facebook page:
“Despite all of the adversity and negativity, we can do this, and we will! My son is alive!…Xander is going to wake up, we will get the breathing tube out, we will monitor him, we will get a home health nurse to help us, we will continue his treatment, we will manage his symptoms, we will keep him out of the hospital, and we will get him well. Thank you all for your love and support throughout this journey. We will never give up.”
On Monday, the tube was removed. Xander opened his eyes and smiled! A small miracle for a little boy and his amazing family.
I know we all have extremely busy lives, and at times, fight to just make it through the day. But if you have a moment today or tomorrow or even next week, please send a prayer or positive thought Xander’s way, and if you leave a comment below on this blog…I will make sure Xander’s parents see it!