The pandemic has been hard on all of us in different ways, but imagine hearing the words “your child has cancer” in the midst of it.
A Southwest Florida family is living that reality, and their little girl’s strength is something we should all want to live up to.
You’d never know 4-year-old Ever Young has cancer. She’s full of energy and loves to play. The only giveaway: Her little headwrap to cover where chemo took her hair.
“We got a couple Barbie dolls, in the best way that I could explain it to her,” explained Jimmy Young, Ever’s dad. “We had a Barbie doll with hair, which was her favorite toy she played with before, and then we got the ones without the hair.”
Like other kids, Ever is a picky eater. “I don’t really eat the Cheetos anymore,” she said.
It’s a side effect of the chemo, something her dad gets choked up talking about.
“To know that she had to go through all the different chemo treatments, the weight loss, the weight gain, hair falling out, and I was just like, why couldn’t that be me?” said Young.
Ever is one of 43 children diagnosed at Golisano Children’s Hospital this year. It’s one of the worst things you could hear as a parent, made worse by the year of COVID.
Young said, “We weren’t allowed to come in and stay as a family together.”
While Ever was in the ICU, her mom and dad had to rotate out every 24 hours. Her big brother didn’t get to see her at all. Their small saving grace was having Golisano close by.
“We could see it from my brother’s room,” Ever said.
“That was a real true blessing. I love that we’re within 10 minutes,” her dad said. “I’ll never forget I had to go home to get a unicorn. She wanted this unicorn to sleep with at night.”
And the doctors worked their unicorn magic – Ever’s white blood cell numbers are good.
“What’s the best news that you received from Dr. McArthur?” Ever’s dad asked her.
“I get to go home,” she replied.
“Yes!” her dad said.
Ever is also back at gymnastics class.
The oncology team will monitor her, and she’ll continue to get chemo infusions for the next two and a half years as an outpatient.
As we all go through this health crisis, some encouragement was offered from one parent to another: “Never give up. Just keep going. She is a perfect example of it. No matter what’s going on, she’s pushing through.”
Forty-three kids like Ever were diagnosed with cancer just this year. There are about another 40 on active treatment at Golisano, and most of those families can’t afford the cost of care. Golisano never turns anyone away, which is where all of us can pitch in. Because of Barbara’s Friends, no child is denied treatment or turned away as a result of their family’s inability to pay for care. Click here to donate or learn more.