I first met Eden at my church. She was in my son’s Sunday School class and she always greeted me with a smile. From the moment I met her, I knew that Eden was a special child. There was something about her that drew others to her. Maybe it was her confidence, maybe it was her sense of humor, or maybe it was the way she made everyone feel good about themselves. She was quick to dole out compliments and cheer up others when they were feeling down.
Although I saw Eden every week, I didn’t get really get to know her until we went on a cruise together. Eden’s mother is a travel planner and their family has been on dozens of cruises. My sons and I were taking our first cruise and Eden could tell that we were a bit clueless.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’ll tell you everything you need to know. I’m an expert at this.”
She proceeded to give us advice on when to go to the buffet, which activities were most fun, where to find everything on the ship, how to deal with sea-sickness, and how to make the most of our time at ports-of-call. Because of Eden’s sage advice, my sons and I had a great time on our first cruise.
I continued to see Eden at church and her smile always brightened my day. A few months ago, I noticed Eden’s wearing a cast.
“What happened to you?” I asked. Eden was active in dance and cheerleading and I thought she had injured herself doing one of these activities.
“The doctor says that I have a stress fracture,” she said still smiling. “I’m supposed to stay off my feet until it gets better.”
Unfortunately, it didn’t get better. The pain in Eden’s leg pain got so bad that it woke her up at night and she needed pain medicine to go back to sleep. This is when her parents decided to see an Orthopedic Specialist.
After several tests, the doctor told them that Eden had a tumor in her leg. Further tests revealed that the tumor was cancerous. Her parents were devastated by the news and so was I. No 12 year old girl should have to deal with cancer and no parents should have to watch their child suffer from this horrible disease.
We rallied around Eden and her family to show our support during this difficult time. One of friend designed “Team Eden” T-shirts and bracelets to help raise money for the family.
As a part of the AT&T “Spread the Cheer” program, I was also able to help ease some of the financial strain associated with Eden’s medical expenses. The family has to travel to the hospital several times a week for Eden’s treatments. Not only do they have to pay for gas, but they also have to pay for parking and meals. I presented the family with a $500 gift card to defray some of these costs. This gift allowed my family to express our love and concern for Eden and her family in a tangible way.
I’m inspired by the tremendous amount of courage that Eden has shown throughout this process. Even on her toughest days she continues to smile and express a strong faith that everything will be alright. She is the embodiment of the peace, tranquility, and beauty that her name conveys.