GREETINGS FROM SOUTH AFRICA!
(Above: Anthea, Trevor, Katie-Meg, Me and Amy)
Every year, on LIVESTRONG DAY, I try and put up a special blog post to to honour the amazing men, woman and animals who have fought, and still fight, the dreaded "Cancer". This disease has affected my family too and I have lost loved ones in the process. This day has special meaning for me as I remember all the millions of people, around the world, who have walked this difficult path. Some have sadly lost their battle, whilst others fight on bravely.
I honour and pay tribute to them.
This year, however, I am hoping that you will grant me a little flexibility as I reach a little further - to honour those who fight, so bravely, against other life-threatening illnesses and, in particular, JUVENILE ARTHRITIS. I am doing this, because there is are some special and brave family members of mine who are currently fighting the fight of their lives..
Today, I would like to honour the
...in their current battle with JUVENILE ARTHRITIS - a disease which is affecting their two, beautiful, young daughters.
Here is their story...
Trevor (a Headmaster) and Anthea (a schoolteacher) are parents to daughters Katie-Meg (12) and Amy (10). They are both dedicated High school teachers who never waver in their professionalism and their love for children as a whole. Their courage has been highlighted over the past two years as they have bravely fought the battle of their lives.
Some time ago, Katie-Meg (12) was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis. Over the past 1-2 years she has deteriorated from being an enthusiastic athlete, sports person and high academic achiever , to a young girl who is now confined to a wheelchair (at a time in her life when she should be embracing adolescence and all its challenges). Despite this, her spirit is strong and her battle has inspired many young (and old) people around her. She is one of the most inspiring young women I have ever met! She faces her plight bravely and gracefully, but sometimes the pain is just too much.
This disease has affected every joint of her body. It means that she is in constant, excruciating pain and there is no letting up. In fact the pain is increasing daily despite extensive physiotherapy and chemotherapy. She goes for physiotherapy and hydrotherapy every week to stop her muscles atrophying, but nothing seems to be helping. Even the small movements are intolerable.
Trevor and Anthea have to get up every night, every two hours, to turn Katie in bed and try to alleviate her pain. They are fatigued and sometimes despondent, but despite this they still try to hold down their full-time teaching jobs, and continue to search for an answer to this devastating illness.
As if this isn’t enough, Amy (10), Katie's younger sister, has also been diagnosed with the same illness. It’s effectively a double blow. At this point there are no answers to overcoming this affliction. Amy’s pain has only recently begun but there is inflammation in different areas of her body and it is starting to hamper her activity too. Both girls are on chemotherapy injections/drips but there has been no improvement although, thankfully, Amy's pain seems to be under control.
Doctors, too, are somewhat stumped as to how to help Katie with pain management. She is on an 8-weekly Revelex drip which makes her extremely ill. Nausea and fatigue are constants in her life and she is also on anti-depressants.
Despite all this the girls are still going to school and trying to retain normal lives. Their parents are icons of strength.
I cannot begin to imagine the nightmare that this special family of mine is going through. I spoke to Katie-Meg recently about what was the most difficult part of this disease. Her answer was simple and unexpected:
"Aunty Caryl, it's the isolation. I can't go out and I can't do what my friends are doing. I sometimes feel so lonely."
This answer is what has prompted me to write about this today. Katie's answer gives us all an opportunity to do something, It's small, but it is something, and that is simply to convey our support, empathy and encouragement .
I have set up a Facebook support group for the Weinerlein family - where friends and supporters can go and leave messages of encouragement for them.
PLEASE CAN I ASK YOU, today, to take the time to leave messages of support for
TREVOR, ANTHEA, KATIE-MEG and AMY WEINERLEIN?
You can do this either in the comments section of this blog (and I will convey this to them), or you can visit their FACEBOOK SUPPORT GROUP and leave your message there. I know that each comment and message, no matter how small, is a treasure for this family. Tell them where you live and tell them how you feel.
PLEASE, on this LIVESTRONG DAY, can you do this?
TREVOR, ANTHEA, KATIE-MEG and AMY, my beloved family:
I love you so, so much! I wish I could take this affliction away from you. Please know that you are loved beyond measure. I have no doubt that you will beat this disease.
BE STRONG! BE COURAGEOUS! LIVE STRONG!
You are a true inspiration to all of us.
With all my love to all those who suffer around the world.