May all their Stars Shine Bright

Emily Hammond with her five-year-old son Griffin at their home in Niagara Falls on Dec. 11, 2015. They have a special Christmas ornament they put on their tree every year as a reminder of all the children dealing with cancer. Mike DiBattista/Niagara Falls Review/Postmedia Network
The tiny silver star has a well-deserved place among the very tip top branches of my Christmas tree. The star has a hole in the middle with a crystal hanging inside. This little star means so much to me.
In Dec of 2011, my 22 month old son Griffin was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and aggressive type of muscle Cancer that grew in his eye orbit. That holiday season was the scariest and most heart wrenching Christmas my little family had ever been through. We didn’t know if Griffin was going to make it and my Husband & I didn’t know if this would be his last Christmas…
After 48 weeks of chemo, 25 radiation treatments directly to his face, and countless pokes, scans and appointments, December of 2012 rolled around and that year, Griffin was Cancer Free!!! You would think I would have been so happy, unfortunately I was not. My heart and soul were hurt from all the cancer kids we had lost that past year as well as all the kids still fighting. I could not let myself feel happy while others were still suffering. Some mothers did not have their babies that Christmas, how guilty and horrid was I to enjoy mine?
I struggled with PTSD, survivor’s guilt and depression until I found this cheap little tin star at our pharmacy while I was getting meds for my son. It sparkled at me, it reminded me of the sparkle in the eye of one particular child we had lost recently. I clung to that ornament all the way home, crying tears of sadness but also relief. I realized that I could HONOUR those children with a place on my tree. I can remember them, laugh at their memories and remember their sparkle. These families would not want me to suffer; they would not want me to be consumed with guilt over something neither of us can help!
 Emily Hammond with her five-year-old son Griffin at their home in Niagara Falls on Dec. 11, 2015. They have a special Christmas ornament they put on their tree every year as a reminder of all the children dealing with cancer. Mike DiBattista/Niagara Falls Review/Postmedia Network
So Griffin is five now, perfectly healthy and happy. And so am I. Each year, I hang that amazing little star near the tip of my tree, the little crystal catching all the light and winking at me. These Cancer Kids are not forgotten, but they are no longer painful. I will always remember those children with this little silver star. I will always remember their bravery, courage and heart.
May all their stars shine bright.
This story was published in the local Newspaper:
Emily Hammond with her five-year-old son Griffin at their home in Niagara Falls on Dec. 11, 2015. They have a special Christmas ornament they put on their tree every year as a reminder of all the children dealing with cancer. Mike DiBattista/Niagara Falls Review/Postmedia Network

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