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Drew’s Battle with Cancer: A Mimi’s Perspective

mimiEvery Friday during National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month each member of Drew’s family will share their story and how they have been impacted by her diagnosis. 

My daughter, Stephanie, called me when I was having lunch in Corpus Christi with my sister. My husband was in Port Aransas at a fishing tournament. She told me that she was on the way to Texas Children’s Hospital. Her doctor told her they thought Drew had leukemia and she could take her or they could go in an ambulance, but she needed to leave immediately. I remember Stephanie was very calm. I hung up the phone and told my sister and nephew. I was numb. My sister told me I needed to leave right then. I sat there and tried to digest the news. I picked my husband up from the tournament and once we were on the road all I could think was, “no, the doctors have to be wrong.” I could hear Drew’s little voice singing Skittery Dinky Dinky Dink and tears fell on and off the whole way home. When we arrived at Texas Children’s, our son-in-law, David, met us outside. He was torn up. I braced myself knowing I had to be strong when I saw Drew. We walked into the hospital room and saw poor little Drew. She was scared and miserable. Stephanie was so strong through the whole thing. I left the hospital feeling like my whole world was never going to be the same. The thought of losing Drew was horrible, but the thought of my baby girl, Stephanie, losing Drew…there’s no words to express my gut wrenching pain. Drew was transferred to Texas Children’s via ambulance and she loved the ride. The first day there, I was so amazed and proud of the way Stephanie handled her. She didn’t treat her differently than she always had. Her patience in getting her to take a zillion different medicines and continuing her incredible discipline practices amazed me. She didn’t shed a tear. I knew she cried by herself and also knew she had to be strong for her daughter. If she broke down, the tears might not ever stop. I’ll never forget one of the evenings, watching my amazing daughter get Drew to take her medicine with patience and love. She helped Drew relax and go to sleep. My admiration was off the charts.

Stephanie bent down to put some clothes away that I brought them, looked back at me and whispered, “Is God going to take my baby away from me?” I held it together and said, “NO!” It was so hard to stay strong. I just wanted to take my baby in my arms and comfort her and let her cry. I knew I had to be strong for her. It was so wonderful when Drew got to come home. She was so much happier at home, but wasn’t our Drewbie. She was still scared and didn’t understand any of it. That was so hard to see. I wanted Drew back. She was the light of her Gdaddy and Mimi’s life! We have many grandchildren but there was always something special about Drew. She absolutely lit up our home the second she arrived. She still drops everything to give hugs and kisses when she sees us. The first time I went to the hospital for Drew’s chemo and blood transfusion was very difficult. When I first walked in, my thoughts were, this looks just like it does in the movies. There were so many chairs and so many precious children fighting cancer. As soon as I saw them my heart sank and the tears were close. Drew was curled up in a chair, miserable and unhappy. Stephanie looked at me and pointed to the door. I knew I had to leave and pull myself together for both of their sakes. I called my oldest daughter, Billye, cried and got it out. I walked back in and made myself be happy and positive. Stephanie was pregnant through all this but never complained or mentioned being pregnant. After about 6 weeks our little Drew’s bigger than life personality started coming back. I attribute so much of this to Stephanie’s patience and continued great parenting, discipline and love. I was so thankful precious Drew was back and not as miserable. I enjoyed meeting them at the hospital weekly for treatments, when I could, to help the day go quicker and have fun with Drew. You don’t realize the stress and confinement families deal with when a child in the family has cancer. You don’t know if your precious child will live. Any germ or sickness could be fatal. Stephanie and David did such a great job keeping Drew safe. It was hard on the entire family. Loving the family and wanting to help and take some of the stress and hardship is difficult. Drew still has 10 months of chemo and steroids left in her treatment. The whole family will worry if she gets a fever or any sickness the rest of her life. Chemo is a poison and we don’t know what organs it has affected. All we can do is pray the cancer will stay away and that she has a long life. We just celebrated her 5th birthday. Singing happy birthday to her choked me up. I’m so thankful God gave her another year and pray she has more than 90 left. There are so many families that have dealt with childhood cancer. I didn’t realize how many children had cancer until our Drew was struck with the horrible illness. We’re aware now and wish everyone would support and do whatever they can to raise awareness and money for childhood cancer.

Kay Carlisle, mimi of patient