“The results have come back from the lab, and it is cancer.” Those are words no person ever wants to hear. The fear and anxiety that it brings begins a difficult journey of fighting daily to overcome a potentially deadly disease, as well as fighting those fears. It’s one thing to hear that you have been diagnosed with cancer. It’s a totally different kind of emotional rollercoaster when it’s said about your young child.
Instead of running and playing in a carefree world like other children, the kids who are fighting the most deadly childhood disease that exists are suddenly thrust into a world of needles, nausea, weak immune systems and having to deal with thoughts of their mortality. It’s not something we want to think about, and we usually don’t until we find ourselves in the middle of that world against our will.
In the spring of 2012, I was contacted by Keith Stille, president of Palmetto Ambulance, and a friend I had not seen since high school. After watching my family take that journey with my son, who was 11 years old at the time and had been diagnosed with a rare bone cancer the previous fall, Keith was interested in putting together a hunt for pediatric cancer patients and their families. He wanted to provide the hunts at no charge and wanted to include the families since they are all affected by the fight against cancer. We began meeting with some other businessmen and parents of pediatric cancer patients, and HuntingForTheCure.org was born.
This year we had the second-annual Hunting For The Cure deer hunt. It took place on Nov. 1-3 at Grady Stille Plantation in White Plains, and this year included six cancer patients and two siblings. Several of the children harvested their first deer ever, including some impressive bucks. Two pediatric physicians were there to help, and a film crew from Southern Addiction TV was on hand to film the hunt for a future television show.
Every child on the hunt was able to enjoy seeing wildlife, as there were deer and turkey on the move all weekend. But the highlight of the weekend for the parents, doctors and event organizers was hearing the laughter of these children who have been through so much as they shared their stories of their hunting experiences and the deer that got bigger and bigger as the evening wore on. At least for a few hours that weekend, the thoughts of trips to the oncology clinic and hospital were left far behind, and the warriors who have fought so bravely were able to focus on something other than the rough road they have had to travel.
Plans are underway for a turkey hunt March 21-23, 2014, as well as another deer hunt next November.
For more information on how to involve a child who is fighting cancer or to help sponsor upcoming events, you can visit the website at hunting forthecure.org or call (706) 467-0096.