CHANDLER (14 years old): When my mom and Ashtyn are in the hospital, I don’t get to see them as much. I don’t like it. It feels like there is an emptiness. It feels different. You can tell someone’s not there. The family’s not whole. Sometimes I can tell a difference even when I’m not thinking about them being gone. It’s sad not having my mom and Ashtyn around. I just try to ignore it and play XBOX.
It feels really weird that Ashtyn has cancer. I didn’t expect it. I never thought it would happen. Some people have cancer that runs in their family but no one in my family has had it. It’s really weird. It has affected my school year pretty bad. My grades have suffered. I don’t have my mom to help me. I have felt sad and depressed and have not wanted to do homework. I’m just really sick of school. When my mom is home it seems like things are almost back to normal. It feels good having them home. Our family feels whole when they are home.
I miss my mom and sister most of the time but I’m spiritually stronger. I rely more on God now for help with everything. My prayers are more meaningful. I know God can do anything. I pray for help to get through this. He is blessing me to have strength. I feel better because of Him. He comforts me. I don’t freak out when there are trials. I’m calm about it. I have been blessed with comfort. When I don’t feel comfort I pray and then I feel better. I don’t worry about Ashtyn cause I know she can do it. I’ve always known everything will be alright. I’m glad to be the bone marrow donor. I’m happy to do it. I don’t know why people say it’s brave of me because it’s not a big deal. In my perspective, even though I don’t know much about it, anyone should be able to do it. Life with cancer is different. I think it will change my life in the future but I don’t know how.
MORGAN (10 years old): When I first heard that Ashtyn had cancer my mind was blank and my heart dropped. I didn’t know what was going to happen. Ashtyn and my mom were in the hospital. I wasn’t used to my mom and sister being gone. I didn’t see them for a long time. I really missed my mom not kissing me goodnight or taking me to school. I really missed Ashtyn. I thought about her all the time. I wanted to see her really really bad. I asked her to Facetime me but she didn’t want to. I didn’t understand why. I now understand that she missed me too much and didn’t want to be reminded of home. She didn’t want to think about the outside world because it was too painful. It must have been harder for her than it was for me because I was home and she wasn’t When we used to fight it was a waste of time. I shouldn’t have fought with her. I’ve been thinking about her needs more. When she asks me to get her water or food it gives me the opportunity to help her in any way I can. I am trying to help. I really like serving her.
When Ashtyn got cancer everyone at school would ask me how she was. On the first day I went to school, one girl kept crying and bawling. Everyone kept asking me if I thought Ashtyn would live. It was weird. I don’t know why they would ask that because I’ve always had faith that she’ll be OK.
I’m glad my mom and Ashtyn get to be home for awhile. I like knowing that when I come home from school I am coming home to them. I like that I get to see them everyday. I like having my mom in the house. I like that she can say goodnight to me every night.
During this trial I have been keeping my faith, reading my scriptures, and praying every night. I’ve been feeling the Spirit more and connecting to God more. I’ve been thinking about the song “If the Savior stood beside me.” If the Savior was in every room that I am in or anywhere that I am, I just imagine Him standing there. What would I do? Would I do the things I do? Would I say the same things? Would I act differently? I’ve been feeling the Holy Ghost and what I should be doing. If I am laying around watching TV or something, I wonder if there is anything else I should be doing around the house instead of watching TV.
I’ve been doing better in life spiritually and physically. I’m grateful that nothing really really bad has happened to Ashtyn. Really bad things could have happened to her, and they haven’t. I am grateful I have other siblings that I can play with when Ashtyn doesn’t have energy to hang out. I’m grateful for other people around us that care about our family. I feel really blessed. Cancer has helped me look at the positive things instead of the negatives. I am grateful for what I have.
ETHAN is 6 years old. I can only imagine what he has gone through and what is in his tender heart. Being the baby of the family, he was my shadow, my buddy. I’m a stay at home mom. Wherever I went, Ethan went. I was always there in the morning to make him oatmeal and at his bedside at night to kiss him goodnight. What was it like for him to all of a sudden lose all that he grew up to know? He is a young boy that doesn’t have many words to express his thoughts and feelings. I do know he longs for one on one time with me. He made a list of activities and asks me often when we get to do the next thing on the list. His list included, Chuck E Cheese, Nicklecade, Classic Skating, Ice Skating, miniature golf, Planet Play, and the movies to watch Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2. So far we have done five of the seven activities and have had a great time together. When talking about cancer and the long hospital stay, the only thing he says is, “it makes me sad.” He has never been outward with emotions when he gets hurt or is sad. Ethan has never been a crier and rarely makes a fuss. Possibly to a fault, he keeps his sadness and pain to himself. If he skins his knee, he’ll hold it, fight through the pain, and then move on. When he gets an immunization shot, he might say “ouch” and that’s about it. Though he is quiet and brave, I can see pain by just looking in his eyes. When he gets hurt physically or emotionally, his eyes cry and his face drops. Ethan has always been a boy with a constant smile and a sparkle in his eyes. When Ashtyn and I got home after two months in the hospital, I noticed his pure and bright smile wasn’t there like it once was. I could sense he was weighed down. After being home for almost five weeks, I have noticed his heart has been lightened and his carefree smile is back.
While Ashtyn is the one who has to deal with the brunt of the challenge that cancer has brought, all four children are learning and growing through this experience. I am grateful for the faith and personal strength of each of my children.