In comparison to many other kids with serious illnesses Cooper's Bravery Bead collection is tiny. Many kids with cancer have endured so many things, and have been brave for so terribly long that their beads hang and loop around their IV poles.
Since we started fundraising for the Great Canadian Run many people, with concerned/confused looks on their faces, have said something along the lines of "you know the race is for the cancer program at sick kids not the cardiac program, right?" Yes, we do know that. When we found out that Cooper would need open heart surgery, that they would open his chest, and sternum, that they would decoagulate his blood, give him a transfusion, and put him on heart/lung bypass. That they would repair his damaged heart, and wait, and wait, and wait to make sure that he wasn't bleeding before they would put him back together, and send him sedated to the CCU. That without it he would develop heart failure, but with it he might not stop bleeding, or his heart could damaged further, or he could end up needing a permanent pace maker, we got but a small glimpse into the agony and terror of families of children with cancer. Children who face the unknown, who do not have a sure prognosis, or who do, and it is not the one that anyone can fathom. We have empathy for these children, for these families. My heart aches for them. When I look at the scars on Cooper's chest I always think of three things, how deeply grateful I am that that little boy is in my life, how amazing Sick Kids is, and how very lucky we are.
Yesterday I bought a package of yellow heart beads. The colour yellow represents cancer awareness, and the heart shape represents Cooper's journey with open heart surgery, together they are a representation of what brought us to this fundraising and racing goal. On Saturday we will run with these beads laced in our shoes.
To all the cancer kids, and parents, and siblings, and grandparents, and aunties, and uncles, and cousins, and friends, we, as cardiac parents run in solidarity with you. We hope, and pray, and yearn for a world where we don't need Bravery Beads, for a world where kids can stop being brave, and just be kids.