Andrew, My hero

Andrew was a thriving young man, who at the age of 14, was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma.  January 6, 2012 is a day that will live in my family’s memory for more than one reason.

Andrew was born on June 18, 1997 healthy and happy.  One day Andrew began complaining of stomach pain but I kept telling him that he was okay.  I finally took him to the pediatrician who originally diagnosed him with constipation.  After two months of constant complaining by Andrew, I noticed that he was as white as a ghost.  I called the pediatrician and got an appointment with her.  It was that day that would change our lives forever.  The pediatrician did a complete exam on Andrew and she had this look on her face that I will never forget.  She had a tear in her eye and explained there was a “lump” in his abdomen that needed to be seen in the emergency room right away.  We rushed across town where we were greeted by a kind-hearted doctor who proceeded to tell us in a matter of minutes that she believed Andrew had cancer.  My heart dropped, scared and crying, I listened intently to what she had to say.  We began all of the many tests and biopsies that had to be done to give us concrete answers as to what was going on.  On January 6, 2011, the diagnosis came.  We were informed that some intensive chemo therapy would be involved and he would be spending months in the hospital on and off.  Through all of this, although Andrew had to be scared, he never let anyone know.  He appeared to be the bravest of us all.

After four months of chemotherapy he had a PET Scan that appeared to show no more cancer.  We thought for a brief minute that Andrew was in remission!  However; there was still a spot on the scan and there was no way to tell if it was scar tissue or if it was still the tumor.  We waited it out for six weeks until another PET was done.  Our hearts dropped when we learned that Andrew was not in remission.  In fact, he was classified as “Resistant Burkitt’s Lymphoma.”  We were so hoping that it was gone but of course, it wasn’t.  Andrew’s tumor grew so large again, even through chemotherapy that it blocked his colon.  He was put through a nine hour surgery where they were only able to get half of his tumor.  He was admitted into the PICU where he was for two days.  Andrew bounced back after his surgery and he was feeling pretty good.  But then, the chemotherapy stopped working.  We tried every thing but nothing would touch that tumor.  The oncologist made an appointment for us to come talk about our options where I heard the worst words a mother could ever hear.  “Andrew, we need to face facts and you need to understand that this cancer is going to take your life.”  I was mad and I was hurt.  Andrew just sat on that bed and cried, and I will never forget what he said.  “I don’t want to die, I’m not ready.”  The Make-A-Wish foundation had to rush around and get Andrew’s wish together in less than a week.

We took his trip to DisneyWorld and had an excellent time.  While there the oncologist contacted me and said that Andrew was accepted into a clinical trial in Maryland.  We were so excited at the prospects.  When we returned home from Florida, three days later, Andrew and I took off for Maryland.  We were there for a week while they tried a new type of chemotherapy.  While there, Andrew gradually began to get sicker and sicker.  We were sent home for a week and told we needed to be back the following week.  While home, Andrew continued to deteriorate quickly.  I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life, do I keep him in the trial knowing it’s not helping or do I accept the help of Hospice and keep him comfortable.  I chose Hospice.  I never gave up hope that a miracle would happen.  I kept hope until the very end.

Two weeks later, I remember laying in bed with Andrew and he was so very sick.  He was incoherent that entire day but I still talked to him just like he was right there listening to every word I said.  I told him how much I loved him and how proud of him I was.  He opened his eyes just as bright as could be and said the only thing we could understand that day, “I love you too mama.”  He closed his eyes and then I told him what no mother should ever have to tell their child, “it’s okay to go baby, I promise I will be okay.”  A few hours later, he took his last breath.

On January 6, 2013, Andrew died, exactly one year from the date of diagnosis.  He shares his date of death with my nephew who was still born January 6, 2011.

Andrew was a bright kid that had an incredible future ahead of him.  He had bright blue eyes and an amazing sense of humor.  He was the “glue” that kept us all together.  There is not a day that goes by that I do not miss him or wish I could hug him just one last time.  One day, I will meet him again and hold his face in my hands.  We will be together again, this is what I look forward to.


Submitted by:Amy Wilinski

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