Thank you for being part of our journey these 3 years! We've so appreciated all your kind words and visits. Onward and upward with our journey!
Monday, September 30, 2013
Dad, Is This What It's Like?
Dear My Toy Garden Friends,
One of the most memorable stories I know of Joey goes like this...Another round of chemo just ahead in an endless journey of treatments and the mandatory fasting was in progress. Joey's stomach ached for food...gnawing at his mind and heart.
"Dad, is this what it's like?" Joey asked.
"It?" puzzled his father. The answer to come was unexpected and no one, except Joey, could have imagined the beauty that bloomed from the seed of that sentence.
"It," Joey pondered. "Is this what it feels like to be homeless?"
Silence..more silence as a father who had wrestled with so words so very many times in the past year prayed for the right words to come.
"Yes, Joey. I imagine it is."
"Dad, we can't let that be. We have to help." Help. From a little boy whose daily tasks of self care and survival were all consuming. Help from a little boy whose brain was under attack. Help. He knew he could though and help he did. From that conversation, grew Team Joey Million Meal Marathon held at Lucas Oil Stadium so that so many other children would not feel those pangs of hunger. We can learn much from Joey Keller...
(From the Pointe to a Cure website.) Joey Keller was born on July 4th, 2003 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In the middle of a torrential downpour and huge booms of thunder, around 9pm, little Joseph entered the world. To his parents, this was a true miracle for they were told they would not be able to have children of their own. In that respect, Joey was a miracle from the get-go. In the fall of 2010 Joey was enjoying a normal childhood, busy with school work, sports, Legos, family and friends, when he began to have severe nausea in the mornings and after playing outside. After weeks of struggling and doctors doing tests, on November 21st, a CT scan finally revealed a golf ball size tumor in the posterior fossa (back) of Joey’s brain. He was rushed to Riley Children’s Hospital, and radiation was started immediately. The lab tests after the tumor resection confirmed Joey had medulloblastoma, a very hard to treat and aggressive type of pediatric cancer. Joey was already at stage 4 with dissemination down his spine. If they didn’t start treatment immediately, he would be in a coma within days. Joey came through the surgery with flying colors, actually asking the surgeon, while his head was still fixed to the operating table and they were closing the incision, “Is the surgery over yet?” It took a couple of weeks for him to come out the hospital, but they used an ambulance to transport him across the street to IU Simon Cancer Center for daily emergent radiation treatments. Eventually his energy, sight, and strength improved, allowing his amazing personality to again shine. Growing up, Joey was always focused on others. When his friends would come over to play at his house, he would offer his toys, food, or money to them, if he felt he had more than they did. At his soccer games, as soon as a teammate seemed upset or got hurt, Joey became focused on trying to help him feel better. At times, this forced the coach to put in another player because Joey didn’t ask permission; he just went with the hurt player or stayed with a player on the sidelines who was upset because he missed a goal or the team got beat. One of Joey’s parents’ favorite pictures of him, from a vacation, is of him with his hand on his cousin’s shoulder at a putt-putt course, comforting him after a tough round. He seemed to always gravitate to hurting people and to do whatever it took to make them feel better.
During Joey’s long months of chemotherapy, radiation, and hospital stays, there was no shortage of hurting people. Joey was always talking with and praying for these hurting kids and their families. Once, a boy and his family down the hall had received really bad news, and Joey could hear the boy crying. He immediately asked his dad to drive home and get a big Star Wars Lego set that Joey had saved for and give it to the boy, in an effort to cheer him up. On another occasion when friends came to visit Joey at his house, he found out that the boy his age was really into a certain kind of Legos that Joey had; when the boy mentioned that he didn’t have any of that particular set, Joey gave him what he had. His parents felt that for an 8 year old, going through the seemingly endless chemo, nausea, and physical therapy to learn to walk again, this was remarkable. It seemed that Joey had figured out, at his young age, that giving was truly more fun than receiving.
In the fall of 2011 Joey relapsed and began chemotherapy for recurrent disease. Those treatments only provided a temporary slowing of the tumors’ growth, and he began to lose control of his facial muscles; so the family and medical team decided to repeat radiation so he could continue to eat, talk, and show the world that wonderful smile that could light up a room. In late September 2012, he began having seizures, and the cancer progressed to a place where medicine had nothing left to offer. He slowly lost the ability to walk, to eat, to communicate, to remember the Legos he loved, to recognize his parents, and, on November 18, 2012, to breathe.
The Team Joey Program, through Heroes Foundation, gives fifty cents of every dollar toward pediatric cancer research and the other fifty cents toward buying and giving out Legos to any child battling cancer.
If he did and does make such a difference with his young life, what's holding you back? How can you use your gifts to help your passion?
With love, Toylady Janet
PS. For me, one of my great passions in this world is to do whatever I can to invite people to take a serious look at what causes such horrors as cancer and autism and other major health issues we face. I invite people to explore their healthcare, their chemicals in their environment and what is really in the food their eat. One conversation at a time, I'm convinced we can one day slow the growth of this horrors and one day, oh how sweet that day will be, see these trends reverse. Many answers are out there already if we only would peek from our cozy perches and look and learn and share. Thank you to all who have joined in the battle already! Welcome to the others.