Brock Had Cancer. {Vanessa Hart – Childhood Cancer}

This is Vanessa’s first guest post.  I just read it.  Like, right before I wrote these very sentences of introduction.

I am numb from shock…sadness…just numb.

This mama?  She is brave.  She is fierce.  She is mighty.

And she has a faith that I am jealous of.

* * * * *

I’ve put off writing this. Because it’s hard. Because this story is too big. Because I’ve heard people say “I can’t read about sick kids. My heart can’t handle it. I can’t let myself go there.”

So, I’ve put this off. Because I’m scared you’ll click away.

Maybe I should lead with the happy ending.


This is my son Brock. He is 4 years old. He likes balloon swords and riding bikes and wrestling with his sister and any sport that involves a ball…or puck.

He had cancer. He is alive.

He HAD cancer. I truly never thought I’d be able to write those words – in the past tense.

When Brock was 11 months old I noticed a knot on the back of his neck. So I took him to the doctor. And the doctor said it was a virus. Over the next few days he developed lots of new symptoms. A swollen belly, a funny looking “rash” (it wasn’t a rash), bruises, he was really sleepy, he didn’t want to eat. Something wasn’t right and this momma knew it.

So, I did what every mom does at 11 o’clock at night. I asked Dr. Google about Brock’s “tiny red pin prick rash.” Dr. Google told me it was leukemia. And for once, that punk was right.

We walked into the local children’s hospital on October 6, 2009. We didn’t walk out until February 17, 2010. That’s 119 days. That’s a first birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day. That’s a long time.

As my husband and I drove to the hospital for the first time, before we were even sure it was leukemia, I said to him, “I know we will be okay. Even if it is cancer…even if he dies. I know we will be okay. God will take care of us. But I don’t want this to be our road!”


The good news was that Brock had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia – the most common, and most curable, type of childhood cancer. The good news was that research in the last 30 years has caused the survival rate of that type of leukemia to be over 90%. The good news was that he went into remission after only 7 days of chemo.

The bad news was that during that first round of chemo, he contracted a severe fungal infection. The bad news was the infection was in his lungs, liver, kidneys, spleen, eyes, bones, and brain. The bad news was that particular infection took his chance of survival down to just 5%.


I stood in that cold, bright room in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and cried hot tears as the doctors told me about the infection. The Lord had blessed us by giving us a doctor that loved Him to deliver the news. “Vanessa, I believe in a big God who can do big things. And so I think it’s possible that Brock could live…but I don’t think it’s probable.” When I pushed her for how long he might have to live she said, “Two weeks.”

Ours families came. We said our goodbyes. We made a mold of his hand. His sister helped press his footprints onto construction paper. We slept in the crib with him. In the ICU. We cried. A lot.

Two weeks. Just two weeks.

That was 3 years and 4 months ago.

Sometimes God likes to show off.

So Brock lived, but barely, at first. He spent 14 weeks on oxygen. He had 12 surgeries – including 2 to remove portions of his lung. When we came home from the hospital for the first time he was 16 months old but he couldn’t talk, walk, stand, crawl, or even roll over. The fungal infection had left him blind in one eye. He didn’t eat anything by mouth and was 100% dependent on tube feedings, 24 hours a day. He was receiving 6 hours of i.v. antifungal medication a day. My husband and I administered those at home. He was sick. Alive! But sick.


This road has not been easy. And it hasn’t been short. Brock just took his last dose of chemo 1 month ago. That’s 40 months – 1,220 days – of chemo. It’s 12 surgeries and 23 ct scans and 112 X-rays and 143 blood transfusions and 5 bone marrow biopsies and 58 spinal taps and more nights in the hospital than I can count (somewhere around 300). It’s physical, occupational, speech, and feeding therapy 4 times a week just to catch up to normal kids. Oh. And it’s the time he stopped breathing and his heart stopped beating. In the car. As I was driving to the ER. I’ll tell you that story later.

Here’s what I didn’t know before my child had cancer:

– 46 kids are diagnosed with cancer every day
– cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children (more than AIDS, asthma, cystic fibrosis, and congenital anomalies combined)
-Two-thirds of children treated for childhood cancer will suffer long term effects from treatment including loss of hearing and sight, heart disease, learning disabilities, and infertility
– there are 12 major types of childhood cancer
– childhood cancer is different than adult cancer and responds differently to treatment
– less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s budget is directed toward childhood cancers

It’s not just Brock. It’s 46 kids EVERY DAY. Every day. I can’t even wrap my head around it. It’s my child. And yours. And your neighbor’s niece and that little boy at church. It’s your cousin that you don’t remember because he died so young, so long ago. It’s your husband who’s infertile because of the chemo he had as a child.

So you see, don’t you? You see why we need more for our children? More research, better ways to treat pediatric cancer. New treatments that don’t cause as much sickness…that don’t leave kids with permanent hearing and vision loss…that don’t leave them with developmental delays…that don’t lead to complications that take the survival rate down to just 5%.

This is why I, along with several moms in my area, have joined together to form 10 Strong – a St. Baldrick’s team.

IMG_9757 touched up

We are a group of moms who have all heard the words “Your child has cancer.” We have lived and breathed and cried and some of us have even said goodbye to our children on “10” – the 10th floor, the oncology unit, at the local children’s hospital. We are 10 Strong. And we’re raising money for St. Baldrick’s.

St. Baldrick’s rocks, y’all. (Yes, I said y’all. Yes, I’m from Oklahoma). They fund more childhood cancer research grants than any other organization besides the U.S. Government.

So how does it work? People sign up to raise money and shave their heads. Kind of like signing up for a 5k but with less running and more clippers.

I know what you’re thinking. “How in the world does a group of moms shaving their heads help kids with cancer?” Since kids with cancer often lose their hair during treatment, “shavees” for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation show their support by shaving their heads voluntarily, and inspiring friends and family to donate money to support childhood cancer research.

Plus, think of how cool we’ll be this summer. And how fast we’ll be able to get ready in the mornings. It’s a win-win, really.

I know I’ve already taken up so much of your time and the laundry is staring at you and you need to make lunch and you haven’t even cleaned up the dishes from breakfast.

I’m just asking for 3 more minutes.

This is, by far, the best video I’ve seen that summarizes what kids with cancer go through, why research is important, and how you can help.

Just 3 minutes.

* * * *

Hey, it’s Jeannett again.

Now friends, for the hardest part of all: giving.

Donating to help fund research.  Donating so that someday I won’t ever be able to find a guest poster for childhood cancer.  Donating because we are women who rally for one another.

You’re not the only one.  So don’t feel overwhelmed.  Even if it is $1.  Can you promise $1?  Just one.

If every person who reads this post gave just one dollar...ONE…we would meet the 10 Strong goal and surpass it.  Don’t assume everyone else will give.  Because that’s what they’re thinking about you.

ways to donate

There’s more than one way you can give.  Some even include a goodie for you.  See HERE for how to give.

Please?  With a cherry on top?

{cue batting eyes}

And when you’re done with that…go squish your babies.

I still cannot get over that 1,220 days of chemo…



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I'm a mom to four. A wife to one. I believe in story. I love telling you about mine and would love to hear yours. There's really no sense in wasting our suffering and not sharing in each other's joy. We're all in this together...even if it doesn't always feel like it.

Latest posts by jeannett (see all)


  1. 1

    Unbelievable. Amazing strength. Praying. Feeling like a grain of sand in this ginormous bucket – but whatever it takes!
    Kerry @ Made For Real´s last blog post ..happy days SALE

  2. 2

    Thanks so much for posting this. It’s hard to read and I know many will click away, but it’s necesary for us to get the word out. My niece is 6 and she has been fighting neuroblastoma for almost five years. She’s not in remission but her cancer is not currently growing. For the first time in her life she’s off treatment and able to be a relatively normal child. My family shaved with st baldrick’s last year – about ten of us in all. They’re a great organization and they’re really doing good work. Thank you for sharing your story, Here’s to many years of good health and less doctors! :)

  3. 3

    So touching…I admire your strength, faith and being able to survive it all. Lots of love and best wishes from the middle of Europe!
    Alexandra´s last blog post ..An amazing app – Kids’ Voca from MindSnacks

  4. 4

    Love what you are doing here to help others! Keep up the great work! :)

  5. 5

    Heartbreaking. I purchased a lovely necklace from wifesinger for a $6 donation. My oldest son’s best friend has Cystic Fibrosis. My heart goes out to all parents who have sick children. I hope more research is done soon to prevent our babies from getting so sick when they are trying to get well! All my love, Ellen.
    Ellen´s last blog post ..March already?!

  6. 6

    Amazing story of strength.

  7. 7

    I really loved your story about Brock , I have been a friend of Molly and Mia for quite a while now and several others .Cancer is awful !!! I hate it ,I wish nobody ever had to go thru it again, children or anyone. All you moms are so awesome,Iknow the most awful day of my life is when we were told our son ,then ten yrs old had diabetes and our lives wouldnt ever be the same,we hear every horror story,every change and I couldnt even talk for the big lump in my throat .I was so scared and Everyday I thought he might die,I know better now but when it is your baby it is just impossible to think about . If they had told me Cancer I think I would have totally lost it,I cried every minute I was away from him for a week until we could be in a room together and I had other moms to talk to and learn from but it is still awful when your baby has something wrong. You moms have gone thru the unthinkable for months and months and watched your babies come and go out of one phase to the other I dont know how you even come out of all those months of temps,surgery,days away from other children,diahrea so bad ,throwing up ,shots, chemo ,hair loss,and all the rest. When I heard that our little friends were taking chemo out of gallon jugs I just couldnt believe it. Some of my little buddies havent made it and are angels now which isnt much help to the parents who miss them ,can never hold them ,ache for them to be there when they wake up in the morning ,it isnt fair and I hope a cure is found soooooon and you gals have done something really great to help. I love my little mia and My unsinkable Molly ,Wes,and more names than I can remember and the losses that hurt so bad for some of my other little friends My RJ Kauffman I got so attatched to him,Ila Jean Bean so pretty and all she wanted was pretty things for her hair that wasnt really there but slowly coming back .It makes me want to bring my grandkids and little nieces and nephews home and guard them so they dont ever have to go thru anything bad but It just doesnt work like that . thanks for bringing this to all of us .Im so Excited I finally will get to meet Mia and Beth McDowell this week end at my little nephews first birthday party and Im excited !! Love and Bless all of you and all the ones none of us know.

  8. 8

    So- you cannot watch that video without wanting to donate your whole life saving to childhood cancer research!

    Beautiful story and such a handsom boy!
    Fawnda @ Fireflies and Jellybeans´s last blog post ..Show Off Your Stuff Party # 168

  9. 10

    It must have been crushing to hear more bad news after such a quick victory. My heart dropped when I read about the survival expectancy from the infection, and then it broke when I read about the family coming in to say goodbye to Brock. Of course, I’m glad Brock is a 4-year-old little boy today!

    Definitely picked up a couple goodies from Wifey Singer on Etsy. I hope we meet the donation goal on this one!

  10. 12

    Oh my goodness! How could you read that, watch the video and then NOT want to help?!? So brave of her to share her story here!!!
    Kassi @ Truly Lovely´s last blog post ..Kassi’s 20 Wishes Progress – March 2013

  11. 13

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on childhood cancer. Regards
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  1. […] take a sec to visit Jeannett over at Life Rearranged ~ so worth it, and we’d so want the same support for our own child, grandchild, niece/nephew, […]

  2. […] be guest posting on her blog, sharing pieces of Brock’s story. You can read the first post here and find ways to help out […]