Many do not realize that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – unless you happen to be the parent of a child with cancer. Today we are remembering and honoring the memory of Elric Ian Childress born January 7, 2002, and who earned his angel wings on September 9, 2012. Elric is ♥ Forever 10.
Elric and DIPG
According to his parents, Kelly and Eric, Elric was your typical bright little boy. He was about to begin 2nd grade and loved playing and being mischievous. He loved spending time helping his parents and being the best big brother he could be to his little sister, Kat. He was rarely sick – a common cold every now and again – but that was about all.
Eric was diagnosed with DIPG on October 9, 2009. DIPG stands for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. DIPG is a tumor that is located in the middle of the brain stem, the bottom-most part of the brain, which connects the cerebrum with the spinal cord. These tumors are infiltrating (meaning that they grow amidst the nerves) and are therefore inoperable.
The Diagnosis and Treatments
While DIPG is inoperable, there are treatments that can help to slow the advancement of cancer. Eric and Kelly spent years traveling from Virginia Beach to Memphis, Tennessee to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital so that Elric could receive these treatments. A parent will do anything necessary to keep their child with them as long as possible, and Kelly and Eric were no exception.
Elric wanted nothing more than to help find a cure so that another child would not have to deal with what he was undergoing. He felt that, if everything he was going through with the treatments could help bring about a cure to save another child, another family, then he would deal with all of it and with a smile on his face.
Elric was a young man who, no matter how much he may have disliked needles, if enduring just one more poke to draw blood would help save another child’s life – he’d do it. His smile was contagious, his laughter lit up a room, and he was so full of life! Inquisitive about everything around him, a total innocent, he found joy in everything he did, everything he experienced.
The Parent Perspective
Personally, I cannot fathom where I would get the strength to deal with one of my children being diagnosed with cancer. I had the opportunity to sit down and discuss with Kelly and Eric how it affected their relationship with each other, with their family. Never easy, naturally, but these are two parents who stayed strong for their son and daughter, stayed together and treated everything as a partnership. You can read Kelly’s story – A Mother’s Perspective – and Eric’s story – A Father’s Perspective – here on the blog.
Children with cancer look at life in a completely different way than the rest of us do. They know that their time on this earth is fleeting. Kelly and Eric are continuing Elric’s message to help others, to find a cure, with Helping Mr. Elric & Friends. A Facebook community for parents, siblings, family, friends who wish to connect with others who are dealing with childhood cancer in their own families, or helping to raise awareness.
Understanding that living in the moment, living each day to find the silver lining, the “happy” in every experience, is what life is REALLY all about.