Gavin’s Story

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I started Team Tiny Oranges last year because I wanted to do a charity project through my blog.

I knew I wanted it to benefit a charity that helped children, so when I heard about the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation’s (PCRF) annual Cinco de Mayo Run / Walk event which happened shortly after I posted this guest blog from a mommy reader who was a pediatric cancer survivor looking to raise awareness, I knew this was the cause I wanted to support.

I wanted the opportunity today to share the story of a mom I met last year through PCRF, Kim, and her son, Gavin.

When you are not personally affected by pediatric cancer, those words are just that, words. But what I learned through doing our team, is that behind the words, “pediatric cancer” there are countless stories of families facing this horrendous disease. Families that need our help. 

If you are inspired today to do something to help fight for Gavin and all the families like Gavin’s who face the unfathomable, please join us on Team Tiny Oranges 2012!  Click here for info on how to join our team. There is no minimum fundraising, and you DON’T have to run a half marathon! There is a 1K, 5K, 10K and half, an event for everyone.

May Gavin’s story also be a reminder, that even on your most challenging, craziest of days, to have healthy kids is a blessing beyond measure.

You can read their amazing story in more detail in her book she published last year, Hope Room. It gave my life an entirely new perspective.

Gavin’s Story

“In 2009, I was the happy mother of an infant daughter, Mia, and a 4 year-old son, Gavin. My husband and I were enjoying watching our healthy, happy family grow. We had a great summer enjoying Mia’s first year and Gavin’s first real swim lessons.

Gavin started preschool that fall, and suddenly was getting sick all the time. We, along with everybody else, chalked up his fevers and recurrent ear infections to his body being exposed and getting used to all the germs in preschool. Fall turned to winter and when Christmas finally came, Gavin was too miserable to come out of his room. We saw the ENT right after the holiday weekend, who diagnosed acute mastoiditis and immediately admitted us to the hospital. The pediatrician on the floor looked at Gavin’s blood work and told us that we should be transported up to CHOC, on the oncology floor. She believed that there was more going on in Gavin’s body than the mastoid bone infection. After a bone marrow test at CHOC, the doctor led us to another room on the oncology floor, where he sat us down and told us that 75% of the cells in Gavin’s bone marrow were cancer cells. Gavin’s diagnosis was acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Gavin’s oncologist informed of the good news: he had the most treatable form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, which is itself the most common type of childhood cancer. There is a distinct and well-established protocol for treating his cancer. Then the bad news: the treatment protocol would involve 8 months of intensive chemotherapy followed by 3 years of less-intensive chemotherapy called “maintenance.”

It’s been a long road. Gavin endured many phases of chemotherapy including scores of different drugs. He lost his hair and grew it back. He puked everywhere. But today, he is 6 years old and child-of-the-week in his kindergarten class. He just started playing T-ball. His best friend in his class, coincidentally, also has ALL. They compare the toys they get when they go in for chemo, which is served up either through an IV or spinal tap monthly.  Gavin takes his chemo pills every night and he will continue his chemo regimen through May 2013. They’re normal kids, who happen to have cancer.

Our family supports PCRF because the money they raise goes directly to pediatric cancer research. It goes towards finding better treatments for the 1 in 330 kids who will be diagnosed with cancer before they turn 18. It goes towards finding drugs with fewer horrible side effects. It goes towards finding long-term cures for these children who deserve to live out the full life that lies ahead of them.

I have so much respect for Jen for starting Team Tiny Oranges to raise money and awareness for PCRF. I am grateful for her commitment to a cause that doesn’t directly affect her family. I’m involved because of my son and because of all the other kids who fought cancer, are still fighting, or who passed on far too early. Jen is involved because she wants to be, and that’s simply awesome.”

Thank you so much Kim, for sharing your personal journey with us. Kim’s family and supporters will be out in full force on Team Gavin this year at the PCRF Run / Walk. They also wear Orange (Gavin’s favorite color).  Gavin, you know what? It’s mine too! If you would like to make a donation to support Team Gavin, please click HERE.

[Photos compliments of the Rowe Family.]

11 Comments

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11
  1. 1
    Pam says:

    What an inspiring family. Go Team Gavin!

    • 2
      Jen says:

      Inspiring is the perfect word to describe the Rowe’s!

  2. 3
    Heather says:

    I love Kim, and am SO grateful to PCRF for introducing me to her.

    • 4
      Jen says:

      I have been so inspired by YOUR blog and journey, thanks for commenting so I could “meet” you before the big race.

      Go Team Gab!!!!!

  3. 5
    Susanne says:

    Thank you for sharing their story. What an important cause! Go Team Gavin & Team Tiny Oranges!!!

  4. 6
    Genise says:

    I received Hope Room as a Christmas gift and read it within a few hours – Gavin’s story captivated me and I couldn’t put it down. What an amazing boy (and mom)! I am honored to participate on Team Tiny Oranges 2012 to help raise awareness & funds for pediatric cancer research. Thank you, Jen, for forming this team again and for sharing the story about Gavin and PCRF.

    • 7
      Jen says:

      I felt the same way about Hope Room – I couldn’t put it down. I admire how she wrote it with such raw authenticity.

      I am thrilled you joined our team!! Thank you! Looking forward to hanging out on May 6th!

  5. 8

    Jen, thank you for doing this. You are such an amazing person…so supportive. I am posting about Team Tiny Oranges on our facebook.

  6. 9
    Pat says:

    Please make sure that Gavin receives a wish from the Make A Wish Foundation in their area!!!!

    • 10
      Kim says:

      Thanks Pat! Gavin was granted an amazing wish to see a T. Rex skeleton last year.

  7. 11
    Pat says:

    That is wonderful! Thanks for letting me know! Go Gavin!

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