Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Help Be A Part Of A Bigger Cause

The obstacles we encounter in life can shape us to become a better person. Obstacles unwillingly come in and push us to the edge but leave us as a better person in the end. On January 6th, 2019, my family was hit with one of these obstacles. My sweet, innocent, 12-year-old brother Elias was diagnosed with an inoperable cancerous brain tumor. I always heard stories about children being diagnosed with cancer, but never in my lifetime did I think he would be one of them. I could not digest how life could be this unfair.

The rest of that week was a blur, and before I knew it my parents and Elias were headed to St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. They would be 777 miles apart from my older brother Peter and me for ten weeks leaving us home alone. Being only 16, I was forced to grow up by taking on the responsibilities of a household on top of my busy school life.

The first five weeks consisted of figuring out how to navigate everyday life just with Peter and me. It was honestly a blur that I do not remember much of. But what I do remember is the unwavering love and support from family and friends and the sacrifices they made to help my family. I was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted.

1 Calithea's Partnership with St. Jude's (3)

Week six. Peter and I were able to fly down to see Elias and my parents. This is when it all changed for me. I will never forget the look on Elias’ face as Peter and I walked through the door. We all embraced each other as my life finally felt normal for once. My eyes intensively studied Elias, noticing the changes he had undergone in our time apart and the changes broke me up, Elias looked at them differently. Elias refused to let his bully win. He instead took these recent changes and challenges and flipped them to his advantage the best he could.

The next few days were a rollercoaster of emotions. Elias had introduced Peter and me to some of his friends, and hearing what these children had gone through made me sick at heart. None of them deserved to be in these situations. Although hearing their stories was bitter, I could see in their smiles, and in the way they laughed with each other that they felt a sense of comfort. A feeling of understanding one another bonded them. I was amazed at the bravery of these kids.

On our last day, we went with Elias to his radiation treatment. After he emerged, I witnessed my baby brother have a violent reaction to his treatment. Hunched over in the corner, Elias was throwing up. After he cleaned himself up, it was as if nothing had happened. He did not complain or cry: just looked at me and smiled. It was at that moment that I learned a lesson from this 12-year-old boy. Despite what he went through on a day-to-day basis, he taught me to always push forward and to look at the positive aspects life has to offer.

My mindset completely changed after that trip. The next four weeks consisted of me praying, taking everything day by day, being thankful for the little miracles in everyday life, and surrounding myself with love. Finally, in week ten, Elias and my parents came home, and we were a family again. It has been 3 years and Elias still fights his battle every day. From watching him I learned to appreciate the hardships and obstacles in life. There is a light to them that allows you to see all the blessings in your life. I am moved by him in every way and every day.

With the generous support of St. Jude, Elias, my family, and I came out of this experience stronger than ever before. Though Elias still faces a tough journey ahead of him to full remission, he has truly become my hero, and I learn from him more and more each day.

While my family and I are so thankful for the support we receive with Elias, there are still so many young children and families struggling each day, praying for support and advancements in treatment. I am proud of the partnership Calithea has formed with St. Jude, and hope that we can spread further awareness of this amazing charity even more!

With each order of Calithea Natural Skincare, we donate $1.00 to support St. Jude’s Research Hospital and its amazing efforts to support children suffering from cancer and their families, as well as crucial life-saving research. In the month of September, which is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we are doubling our donations, ($2.00) for all orders made. Help us be a part of a change to help these children today.

~ Elena xoxo

The information in this article is for educational use, and not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be used as such.