Manny in Hospital

Relay for Life

Some months ago, almost my entire family took part in the Relay for Life, a 24-hour fundraising event. I posted about it beforehand. We raised over AU$20,000. Below is a speech I gave during the formalities.

On Fighting Back

Since my son Emmanuel was diagnosed with liver cancer when he was 11 months old, I have been reflecting on the idea of the ‘battle with cancer’ and how it could apply to one so young. Was he too young to be able to battle anything, let alone cancer? Does he even know what is going on? Is he capable of fighting back? I am not sure if Little Manny is in the way you or I are, but that doesn’t matter because I am not really a good fighter, I give up too easily. But Manny has shown me what it means to be a good fighter. He has shown me to always be positive, to keep keeping on, not lie down and let things overwhelm me, to walk forward with my head held high and my eyes on the horizon. Live in the moment, don’t wallow in misery for too long or you’ll miss out on what’s happening now, which you may never be able to get back. After our experiences with Manny, I know that if I ever have to go through what he has, I will know what to do. He has been the example for me.

He has been poked, pricked, prodded, pushed, pulled, and pumped full of more drugs than I care to remember. He has had major surgery which has left him with half a liver (the only organ that is capable of regenerating). I’ve never had a general anaesthetic; Manny’s had about 5. He’s been through the wash, wrung out and hung to dry. Multiple times. But he’s not let that stop him. Cancer? Pah, he says! Chemotherapy? Bring it on, he cries! All Manny cares about are his broom-brooms and throwing balls around the house. And milk from Mummy, but that’s another story. Nothing has stopped him smiling and laughing up at us for too long, or waving at the nurses and doctors, or at any random person for that matter. He still gets sick with excitement when he gets his favourite truck to play with, or when its time to read ‘Where is the Green Sheep?’ or any of his other favourite books (again). Manny has the resilience of children, but he also has a friendly and outgoing nature that makes the battles faced by friends and family more easy to bear.

We are all fighters, all of us here. Just by being here, taking part in an event such as this, we are all part of the global search, the fight for a cure for cancer. Everyone that donated or helped or supported is part of the fight. And the greatest weapon we have is hope. We must never lose hope. We must never lose hope.

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9 thoughts on “Relay for Life

  1. So glad to finally read this speech you did Jake – how eloquent you are and what a family you have! You guys are awesome!

  2. How good to read this wonderful talk. I’m so glad you’ve posted it Jake. A lot has happened since then, hasn’t it? Now Manny is free from the NG tube, and we pray that it won’t be too long before the Central Line is out too – and I heard from his Mummy that he practically polished off a whole weet-bix for breakfast! How amazing that this little child, so young, so innocent has been such a ray of light between us, who are adults and so much “wiser”, and Heaven. Yes, through him, God has indeed worked marvellous deeds!! We, his family, have been given a deeper faith, greater inspiration to pray, not only for Manny and you his dear parents, but for others who are going on this journey. The Relay for Life highlighted that very well, so thank you, Jake and Sharon, for being such power-houses in that event. You are both remarkable young people, may the graces that God has given you both through this ordeal continue to fill your hearts with compassion for others. Manny truly has lived up to his name Emmanuel! All our love Mum, Dad.

  3. I came here before to learn about bookbinding. This time I’ve learnt about life.

    Thank you for this moving speech. It reflects how I truly felt when my child was also in a cancer ward (13 months’ old) for a condition called LCH in England. He’s now a healthy boy (near teenager) and soon will be discharged after 10 years’ follow-up.

    Living with a very ill child brings us to a very surreal world. I recently wrote about my fear and the fear is very vivid even after 10 years.

    Like you, we had the best medical treatment, the best experts in hospital and caring staff. My son received a lot of certificates with a lion’s image — one for each procedure, for being brave. I still keep those certificates.

    The good thing is my son doesn’t remember any sad thing for the length of his treatment: anaesthetics, chemotherapy, operations……He remembered none of these. He said he only remembered a silver electric cat, which he played in the cancer ward’s playroom.

    I admire your strength. I wish you all the best with this battle. Keep the faith, keep your strength.

    • Thanks for the comment. I can’t wait till my son is at the 10 year mark.

      In some ways I think it is good that very young children don’t remember the bad stuff, but I also think it’s important that they know what they’ve gone through, and what special people they are. He’ll hopefully get to know some of the doctors and nurses as he gets older, and we plan to make sure he knows about his ordeal.

      I fully understand the surreal nature of all this: it is just so strange when we stop and think, “Wow, our son had cancer!”

      Thankfully my son is now in remission, and things are looking good for him.

      Thanks again.

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