Thank you to Northwestern Mutual for sponsoring this post on parenting a child with chronic illness. All opinions are my own.
Being a mom is the best job in the world. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. All I’ve ever wanted was to be a mom and raise tiny little humans. I think back before we had our first and remember those times when we’d hear, it doesn’t matter if it’s a boy or a girl, just that he or she is healthy.
But what if your child isn’t healthy? What if your baby is sick? What if you’re now parenting a child with chronic illness?
This is us!
We’re parenting a child with chronic illness.
We have four amazing children – Dylan, Abigail, Caleb, and Faith. Our youngest two are boy/girl twins. At the age of 4, Faith was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. At the time, I remember bing relieved to finally have a diagnosis. Little did I know of what was in store for us. After all, it may be a life threatening condition but it wasn’t a terminal diagnosis.
It’s almost been ten years since Faith’s Crohn’s Disease diagnosis. It’s been ten long, challenging years… but we’re not done fighting. Her battle is not done. It’s on going and will be for the rest of her life.
Over the last ten years, I have immersed myself in research, learning everything I could. I can understand the different blood work and I know when she might need an iron transfusion or what it means when her white blood count is high or when she has active inflammation. In fact, I’ve had people ask me if I am a nurse. Nope. But I am an advocate for my child.
Faith has faced days and weeks in the hospital. We drive hours to see her doctor. She’s been poked at and prodded and is so used to needles and blood draws that she doesn’t even flinch. I’m so very proud of the warrior that she is but so sad that she’s “used to it.” A child should never have to be used to this amount of medical treatment.
Faith is a warrior. She is fighting this battle daily and we fight right along side her. We are definitely on this journey as a family. The impact that Crohn’s Disease has had on us all is huge. Any chronic illness robs these kids of their childhood. Robs them of being able to just be a kid.
So it makes me so happy to see program’s like the Childhood Cancer Program launched by Northwestern Mutual.
Northwestern Mutual launched its Childhood Cancer Program in 2012 to find cures, provide family and patient support and aid those who struggle with the long-term effects of treatment. The program has contributed more than $17 million with the help of its employees and financial advisors nationwide, funding more than 200,000 hours of research.
Northwestern Mutual understands that children battling cancer deserve some time off from their illness. They deserve time to live carefree and just be kids. Kids who don’t have to think about their diagnosis even for a short time. And because the whole family can be impacted by illness, it allows families to find moments of happiness, create more happy memories and strengthen their bond.
On July 6th, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation partnered with the Rose Bowl Stadium for The Rose Buds Campout on the Field event for children affected by pediatric cancer.
Northwestern Mutual sees a future in which children and families can move beyond the fears of cancer and find happiness, because all kids deserve the chance to just be kids.
When you get cancer, you kind of have to grow up fast. You can’t really be a kid when you’re that grown up. Camp gave me this new normal where I knew I was okay and had others like me, so that gave me some reassurance and the confidence to travel through the rest of my journey.
-Bennett Unger, 14, of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
Many of these kids never had an opportunity to be just that – kids. Bringing them together at a camp like this lets them forget all that.
-Eric Christophersen, president, Northwestern Mutual Foundation
You can help continue to make events like these possible!
Not every child is healthy enough to attend camp. For those who can’t travel, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation is creating indoor camp experiences in select hospitals nationwide, delivering kits to pediatric cancer units so they can bring camp-like experiences to those undergoing inpatient treatment.
Through July 20, you can vote for the iconic venue where you’d most want to camp out, and for every 25,000 votes cast, Northwestern Mutual will give a $5,000 grant and an indoor camp experience to a pediatric cancer unit.Head over to Northwestern Mutual and vote.
To all those moms and dads who find themselves parenting a child with chronic illness, I see you! You are strong and amazing warriors. I know this is scary and you’re tired. You’re going to have sleepless nights and many days of worrying. You can do this. You are the best advocate for your child. Take comfort in knowing that your child is drawing on that strength and learning how to overcome challenges. You’re raising an amazing kid!
Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI (NM) and its subsidiaries. Learn more at northwesternmutual.com
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