"When you hear of childhood cancer, you usually think of those poor kids you see on a few commercials. They have little bald heads and look to be too young to have to deal with chemo and radiation.
"And then, one day, out of the blue, your seemingly healthy child has to make a trip to the doctor and then to the emergency room. Then those words, those terrible words. You know, the ones no parent ever wants to hear. It's hard to describe how it hits you, somewhat surreal as it sinks in.
"'We think your son has cancer'
"In the blink of an eye, you are now a cancer kid parent.
"What follows changes your whole world. You start to become familiar with drugs and what they do and their side effects. You find yourself thrust into handling and sometimes injecting drugs with names you can barely pronounce. As my wife called it, our new normal.
"For Reece, the diagnosis is Leukemia, a blood cancer. His treatments would entail weekly clinic visits for spinal taps, chemo, blood tests and more. You can't imagine how brave an 8 year old becomes when faced with shots in each leg at the same time with chemo drugs that burn as they go in. Then come the hospital stays, some planned, some due to fevers and low counts.
"Fears can grip you as you watch your child dealing with drugs your not allowed to touch, yet they are going directly into his blood stream. After many different phases of treatment, you finally make it to maintenance where it finally gets a little easier. Yet with every phase, brings new things to learn, new things to be cautious of, and new hope.
"Hope comes in many forms. For us it came from prayers, support, and the doctors and nurses at the Aflac cancer center at Scottish Rite.
"20 years ago, the outlook for Leukemia was not good. Pretty close to a 50/50 chance of surviving. It's amazing how far research has come in the last 20 years. There is now about an 85% cure rate for children with Leukemia. That advancement has come from all the research and trials which all require funding. Thanks to many organizations, we have a good outlook for our son. I would love to see an even higher cure rate, and shorter treatments that cause fewer side effects. But without your support and donations, those advances can take many, many years. For some kids, they don't have years to wait.
"Your donation big or small adds up to make a huge difference. I know we were happy to hear that Reece's treatments would put us in the 85% cure rate.
"Reece is our hero, having endured more than a child should have to. He is near the end of his treatment, and amazes us with his strength and determination. We are thankful to people like you that have made donations."
- The McPhail Family