In one of the saddest stories I have ever heard, in Oregon, a mother and daughter are both battling cancer at the same time. Summar Ruelle, 36, was diagnosed with Stage IV (advanced) breast cancer last year, and soon after her 3-year-old daughter Sapphire was diagnosed with leukemia as well. They are circumstances most of us couldn't even imagine, but one family is living them every single day.
Sadly, Summar's diagnosis is far worse. Her cancer had spread and her treatments are severe and debilitating as a result. Sapphire's prognosis is better -- up to 90 percent of children with her type of cancer are cured. Still, it's hard enough on any family to have one member with cancer, let alone two.
They are amazing. It's true. But a 3-year-old, especially a sick one, needs her mom to be strong, and a sick mom needs to know her child is healthy and strong. For both of them, this must be so incredibly difficult.
As a 12-year-old, my own mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. While it didn't affect my day to day life, I certainly remember being scared and deeply traumatized by it. And then she died when I was 16, which was a whole other trauma. It's hard to imagine going through all that while also being sick myself.
Though Summar says she and her daughter have an amazing bond, my heart breaks at the way they earned it. No family should have to go through this. The father has had to quit his job to care for the family full-time, and the 6-year-old son is often with family members and friends who have offered to watch him.
There is a fund-raising site set up to help the family. That is helping with at least one portion of the pain, but the larger part is a thing only doctors can really help them with.
As a parent, all we want in the world is to care for our children when they are sick. We want to take their pain on as our own. I can only imagine what I might feel in this situation, feeling so helpless while my little girl suffers and I suffer, too.
Moms don't get to be sick. They especially don't get to be sick when their kids are sick, too. Sadly, for Summar, this is not something she can control. She has to be sick. Hopefully she can look at it like regaining her strength so she can be the best mother her daughter needs. I wish I could help in some way other than sending money. I can only imagine how hard this must be for them.
Have you ever been sick at the same time as your child? What did you do?