A New Perspective

We have all seen them.

Ribbons for cancer. Pink for breast cancer, gray for brain cancer, yellow for bone cancer and lavender for general cancer awareness.

This photograph of Isabelle and Rebekah was taken by Rick Carr, of Carr Portrait Arts for his Portraits of Hope project. Please visit and LIKE Rick’s FB page at https://www.facebook.com/PortraitsOfHope

The one I wear is orange, for Leukemia, because that is what attacked my sweet granddaughter Isabelle Jade Ratclilffe a little over a year ago when she was just seven years old. The words, spoken through tears by my eldest daughter, were some that I prayed that I would never hear, “Isabelle has cancer.” That time was some of the darkest days for our family. My daughter Rebekah said it so precisely, “Christian and I have never slept so little, wept so hard, made more difficult decisions, questioned our faith so deeply, made such an effort to smile and laugh or worked so hard to keep our family together. But we also have never felt so loved or supported by so many. Family, Friends and people we don’t even know. We almost lost her twice. But she held on. She was stronger than the two of us combined. This year has been a long journey of downs, ups, downs and ups. Only 1 1/2 years to go and she would say “most” of the scary is behind us.”

I took this a couple months before she was diagnosed with AMPL. Notice her red eyes? This was her second eye infection in two months. She also had strep throat twice that winter, but other than that, she didn’t have any symptoms until the week of her diagnosis. She had a fever that wouldn’t go away even with treatment. We are so thankful to a very astute and attentive pediatrician, Dr. Costa, that caught her illness with very little symptoms. The cancer was so aggressive that she had to have several units of blood and plasma before they could do her first biopsy. But she never lost her smile.

This was taken after her first round of chemo; she got a condition called mucusitis so bad that she couldn’t swallow, close her mouth, eat or talk. She had to be fed through tubes and was kept under morphine for over three weeks. She still doesn’t have all her tastebuds in her mouth and doesn’t like the way any food tastes to this day. This was the first time she went to the ICU. Her second trip to ICU was because she turned sepsis rather suddenly; the doctors said that if she had been at home, she would not have made it back to the hospital. Thank you God for taking such good care of her.

Until that moment, I had always noticed cancer awareness campaigns, Relays for Life Rallies, Race for the Cure and so many others with understanding, but not commitment. Both my parents and my mother-n-law succumbed to cancer. But nothing affects us like the fate of a child. Perhaps it is because of the seemingly injustice of it; their life is only just begun, why should they get this horrible disease? I’m not saying I didn’t

Isabelle on one of very few stays at home during her treatment. Out of over six months, she was only home for around 40 days – not all at once. Through it all, she never lost her smile or her will to live.

care about research campaigns; I’ve organized a bike-a-thon for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and still am a supporter, and I’ve also walked is a couple of Relay for Life Rallies. But when my sweet granddaughter asked for me to join her team – Team Isabelle – for the CureSearch Walk for Children’s Cancer in Oklahoma City, OK, there was no way I was going to turn her down.

Isabelle is one of the lucky ones. Scientists found a cure for her very rare type of Leukemia (AMPL) in 1985; before then, children with this type of cancer almost always died.

This is one of my favorite photos of Isabelle taken by her daddy right after she awoke from her morphine coma. What little hair she had left kept getting in her airways, so her daddy used his shaver and got rid of it. She has a very pretty little bald head!

But their are still so many others who are not as fortunate. During Belley Dancer’s nearly seven-month stay at Children’s Hospital, she witnessed many children who did not make it out of their fight. One friend in particular finished her treatment the same time as Belle; Mady had AML, similar but more aggressive than Belle’s. After her first post-treatment biopsy, her parents heard the worse news possible; her cancer had returned. The next coarse of action was stem cell transplantation. Unfortunately, this 11 year old child never made it to her transplant; the massive doses of chemo to get her body ready for the transplant put her into sepsis, and she never recovered.

Mady and Belle were cohorts in crime and fun. On this day, they “stole” the nurses badges and were pretending to be in charge. Rest in Peace Mady.

For every Isabelle, there are hundred’s if not thousands of Madys. The only way to stop this demon called childhood cancer is to make bigger and better strides in cancer research. And in order to do that, it will take many dollars. That is where people like you and me come into play. We may not all be brilliant scientists, but we can walk, donate money and even hold the hand of a child.

The 2012 Oklahoma City CureSearch Walk raises funds for children’s cancer research. Clint and I have a goal to raise $500 for this event. With your help, we can surpass each of our personal goals.

CureSearch Walk celebrates and honors children whose lives have been affected by children’s cancer, while raising funds for clinical trials research sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and conducted by the Children’s Oncology Group. This group of medical professionals treats more than 90% of children with cancer at over 180 hospitals in the United States. These experts provide world-class care in communities across the country.

Isabelle’s Sucky Thing. Even when she awoke from the morphine, she still couldn’t swallow or close her mouth or talk. The “sucky thing” tube was never out of her mouth. It swallowed for her and helped get rid of the lose skin coming off her tongue and inside her mouth, so she wouldn’t choke.

Every day, 36 children are diagnosed with children’s cancer – 7 of these children will not survive. That is 13,140 children who suffer through a very horrific disease every year; of that number, 2,555 lose the battle. Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children. Although the cure rate is now 78% – up by 40% in the last 20 years – it is not good enough. Our goal is a 100% cure rate.

One of Isabelle’s last weeks in the hospital. She thought she would be in for Christmas, so she wanted a party complete with Dirty Santa Gifts. As it turned out, she was released a few days before Christmas and hasn’t had a hospital stay since. Her face and her daddy’s repeats what her t-shirt says. JOY

So on September 15 at 8:30 a.m., Clint and I and most of our entire family will meet at Children’s Hospital to walk for a cure. We will be wearing orange t-shirts in honor of Isabelle or at the very least, orange ribbons.

There are two ways to help: You can go to www.curesearchwalk.org/okc/isabelle and join Team Isabelle and set a personal goal yourself or you can visit Clint and mine’s page at http://www.curesearchwalk.org/faf/r.asp?t=4&i=1027299&u=1027299-364841174&e=5981106724 and support our efforts. Please donate today and help make a difference.

This was taken about seven months before she was diagnosed; was she already sick? We may never know, but perhaps further research can detect childhood cancer earlier thus saving more lives.

Thank you, and God Bless you and your family.

28 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. stuffitellmysister
    Aug 18, 2012 @ 03:53:12

    Beautiful post. ♥


  2. Rebekah
    Aug 18, 2012 @ 04:58:05

    Great post mom. I don’t think I will ever be able to look at those pics and not cry. I still get anxious at the sound of the blood pressure cuff.


    • Darla Welchel
      Aug 18, 2012 @ 13:55:32

      I am so sorry sweetie. My intention was not to make you cry, but to help others realize the importance of cancer research. I knew it would be tough on you guys. I had a hard time going back through all the photos myself; but what always made me feel better, were all her smiles! She is still a remarkable girl, in spite of her crayon fetish! 🙂 £


  3. Jan K.Bryan
    Aug 18, 2012 @ 06:51:06

    What a “journey” Isabella and her whole family has made! Cried reading the whole story. Admiration and blessed are words that come flowing from me. And most of all strength. I got bad news this week about myself, I have fought my fight of a terminal lung disease, pulmonary fibrosis for almost 10 years. So many simple things in life and our environment that are triggers for diseases and cancer. I just want to keep living, I get so scared at times. Dear Isabella, just reading about her strength and perseverance, and that she is one of the fortunate to have beaten and survived her fight of her LIFE! God love her and God continue to love her and make her an instrument to others who just hearing her story gives inspiration.


    • Darla Welchel
      Aug 18, 2012 @ 13:58:01

      Jan, I am so sorry for your struggles; I will continue to pray for your healing. You mentioned you got bad news, but didn’t say what it was. If you want to discuss it, you can message me on Facebook.


  4. stuffitellmysister
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 15:15:27

    Reblogged this on stuff i tell my sister and commented:
    Isabelle is an amazing and strong young lady. Isabelle is a fighter and a survivor. She is wise beyound her years. This post, by her grandmother, brings to light the importance of medical research. Had it not been for cancer research, there would not have been a cure for “Bell”. ♥♥♥


  5. Naomi Baltuck
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 15:41:19

    Such an amazing story. So well told, and it is a story that needs to be told. Thank you for sharing it. I am so sorry for all your little girl, and so many others, had to endure–it brought tears to my eyes. And so happy for her recovery!


  6. beebeesworld
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 18:54:35

    What a beautiful and courageous young lady. Having lost a child very suddenly, I know the fear and questions. When you tell your story, make people aware of how to help, you may be saving a life, or saving the family the agony of loosing a beloved child. I wish you and your family all the best. bebeesworld


  7. tchistorygal
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 20:51:27

    What a beautiful story. I will reblog this on my website as well.


  8. tchistorygal
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 20:53:14

    Reblogged this on Marsha Lee and commented:
    This is an amazing story of a young girl with leukemia. I will never forget the horror I felt when I was 10 just reading about a girl who died of cancer when she was 10. Research has provided so much hope since then.


  9. island traveler
    Aug 20, 2012 @ 09:10:25

    I could hardly finish the post. I words are filled with emotions that touches the heart of the reader, feeling the pain, the fear, the hope of every struggle, the joy that today, everything is well. My hope and prayers for Belle’s good health and healing, as well as of her family, and all the victims of childhood cancer. Thanks for shairng this post. It makes people realize how devastating this disease is and that anyone of us is vulnerable to it.


    • Darla Welchel
      Aug 20, 2012 @ 15:02:14

      Thank you. You are so right, we have our happily ever after ending (although it is tenuous), but so many others don’t. The importance of further research cannot be stressed enough!


  10. lifeofaministermom
    Sep 11, 2012 @ 06:13:52

    Hi Darla,
    Thank you for sharing this. I can hardly express what it means to me (maybe one day in a post of my own), but I had to read it, leave the page for a week and come back. The reason being that I’m all too familiar with the evil cancer meanie. I lost 2 aunts to cancer, my father-in-law passed before we could meet (leukemia), I know 2 people currently battling (one with leukemia), and my dad passed away nearly 3 years ago from non-Hogkins Lymphoma. He was a young vibrant 48, yet he didn’t have the opportunity to walk his only daughter down the aisle…deep sigh. I digress. Praise the Lord for Belle’s healing!!! I know she is in God’s care and will continue in health for the rest of her wonderful life. She is beautiful and I’m glad to show my support in any way I can. We were blessed by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (lls.org) who accepted donations in my father’s name and donated red wristbands for cancer that we were able to give away as wedding favors. My husband and I hope to one day participate in one of their Team in Training fundraising events. Awareness is key, and I appreciate you for sharing this delicate topic with such sensitivity and love!

    With Love in Christ,


    • Darla Welchel
      Sep 11, 2012 @ 15:31:27

      Thank you Patricia,
      I am so sorry for the losses you have also experienced because of cancer. My mom was only 58, but she smoked and drank most of her life. The sad part of her early death is that we were just beginning to get to know each others as friends. I never knew what it meant to have a mama that I could talk to, confide in or hang out with. One day perhaps; she did give her life to Christ just before she died, as did my dad did in 2006 before he died.
      I hope you have a blessed day and that this brought you comfort and not heartache!


      • lifeofaministermom
        Sep 11, 2012 @ 20:18:09

        Wow Darla,
        My dad gave his life to christ 6 weeks before he passed away and the Lord saw fit to use me to witness to him. I am comforted, especially knowing and trusting in the infinite wisdom of the Lord! Really and truly “all things work together for the good”… 🙂

  11. Darla Welchel
    Sep 11, 2012 @ 15:36:11

    Reblogged this on Through The Lens and commented:

    It is only FIVE more days until the CureSearch Walk, so I wanted to repost this. Please help if you can. And please pray; only God can really cure this curse.


  12. Trackback: Awesome Prayers for Trey! | Through The Lens

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