I remember the day I took my son to the pediatrician. He had been under the weather for so long, I knew in my heart something serious was wrong. The doctor ran several tests and agreed that something grave was happening to him. We were referred to Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi. They were expecting us and immediately started in on more testing. After a few hours the doctor informed me that they thought he was suffering from Aplastic Anemia. (It later turned out that he had leukemia, began chemotherapy that very night, went in remission weeks later, and has stayed in remission for 13 years now.)
When I heard the words “aplastic anemia,” my heart sank. Most people are unaware of the disease, but I was all too familiar. You see, my beautiful cousin Deanna Dawn Bilski had lost her battle with Aplastic Anemia in 1980. I was only 5 years old, but I remember her and when we lost her. It was devastating for the whole family. We were all very close and this was my first hard lesson in death. I didn’t know much about it, but I knew she was sick – very sick. I remember visiting her in the hospital and although she was fighting such a hard battle at such a young age, I recall her being unquestionably happy. Even as young as I was, I thought to myself that I would be so full of woe if I were in her shoes, fighting her war, living in a hospital day and night. But she never emitted any sadness or despair. During our visits, she was the life of the room! Playing, laughing, smiling – you would never know what was happening within her.
When we lost her, I thought of her everyday. I felt for my cousin, Jennifer, too. My sister was (and still is!) my best friend and I couldn’t imagine losing her, especially to such a terrible disease. I felt for my Aunt Jeanne (Deanna’s mom) and how difficult it must be to grieve for your child.
This year, my Aunt Jeanne signed up for the Hope, Steps & A Cure Walk in San Antonio on Sunday March 10th, 2013 in loving memory of Deanna Dawn. My mom, my cousin Jennifer, and myself all signed on to join in raising awareness, support, and hope. Our goal is to raise $250 outside the initial $300 donation Jeanne made. Please find it in your heart to donate to this cause that is so very important to us. Every little bit helps.
Click here to read our campaign page and to make your donations.
With love from Me, Mom, Aunt Jeanne, Cousin Jennifer, and of course, Cousin Deanna
You’re in our hearts, minds, and memories every single day, Deanna Dawn.