It’s never easy to watch someone you love struggle with any kind of illness. It’s absolutely unthinkable watching your child battle cancer every single day. This is why Jessica Medinger shared a devastating photo of her 10-year-old son, who has Leukemia, to help raise awareness about what cancer is really like.
Medinger shared the photo on International Cancer Day on the Facebook page she created to document her son’s journey–the page is called Stinky Joe’s Pit Crew. According to the page’s “about” section, Drake was diagnosed in 2012, and has been battling the disease ever since:
“Drake was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia B-Cell (A.L.L. B Cell) on Sept 29, 2012. He reached the milestone of maintenance on June 6, 2013. This page is dedicated to his fight with childhood cancer. Drake is an avid Cars fan and enjoys demo derby’s and figure 8’s. We ask that you join his “Pit Crew” in support of him and his fight.”
The photo, which was also shared on the Love What Matters Facebook page, shows Drake (aka Stinky Joe), standing over the toilet in pain. It’s clear how the chemotherapy has wrecked havoc on his body: his hair has fallen out, he’s thin, and he has to wear diapers. This photo, however, also shows how strong Drake is–and how he’s fighting through the pain–and worse, the moments where it feels like there’s no hope.
What Medinger writes is heartbreaking, especially in conjunction with the photo:
“This is having your son sleep with you at night because he is afraid of something happening and being alone, and by something I mean dying. This is having middle of the night conversations with a ten year old, asking if he dies will he go to heaven and will he see his dad there and be able to talk and play with him. This is him being too weak to get out of bed or walk and needing to be carried or in a wheelchair. This is him falling asleep as someone is talking to him, because he is too exhausted. This is him, throwing up every medication I give him and him dry heaving because his stomach is empty except for the spoonful of yogurt I just gave him with his pills. This is having to take 44 chemo pills last week in a matter of 24 hours. This is him telling me, mommy, Im not going to make it.’
This is him not wanting to be touched, because it hurts too much, and using morphine to get through his day. This is him telling me he is scared and thinks he wont see his 11th birthday. This is him and me, telling him that I will continue to fight for him when he cant. This is him and me, and our world.”
It’s hard to even imagine what Medinger is even going through, although the fact that the post has been shared over 60K times illustrates that the post not only touched people, but that other families can relate. Cancer strikes at the heart of many families, and yet, somehow only 4% of childhood cancer funding actually goes towards research–which Drake’s aunt noted on the Facebook page in response to the post’s popularity:
“Right now we are just trying to get through the day. We never excepted this to spread as much as it has. Thank you for your care and support. We want to raise awareness that childhood cancer only receives 4% of research funding. Please pray as that means the most to us.”
The fact that Medinger is so candid about Drake’s struggle, and her struggle as a mom, is evidence of her resilience–but also a reminder we all need. Raising awareness will help fight against cancer only if we continue to push for more cancer funding and research.