More Precious Than Gold!

Written by Gina Sue Rogers Bradley.

A family's life is forever changed

Gold – a soft and precious yellow metal, something valued as the finest of its kind.  What is more precious than gold? Our children are more precious than gold! That is why gold is the color of childhood cancer!  Those impacted in any way by childhood cancer know how very little information and research is available and committed to it.  September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, because our children are indeed more precious than gold and worthy to be honored and celebrated as such.

A family’s life is forever changed because of childhood cancer every four minutes, which equals seven hundred new children affected every day.  Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children in the United States, claiming approximately two hundred fifty lives every day, totaling 91,250 American kiddos a year.  Even those who survive childhood cancer often face the suffering of chronic conditions from the harsh and toxic treatments, which are the very same medicines given to full-grown adults. 

While those may just sound like facts and figures to you, a more-precious-than-gold warrior face of childhood cancer may be nearer to you than you think!

Meet Isabella “Izzy” Godwin of Carthage, daughter of Matt & Abby.  Isabella began having severe stomach pain and vomiting in January 2014, which led her to an ER visit.  A CT scan revealed a mass on her left adrenal gland.  After meeting with a Children's Medical Center pediatric surgeon, the mass was removed on February 28, 2014.  The surgeon followed up that next Friday with the devastating news that Izzy had Ganglioneuroblastoma.  Before ending the phone call, the surgeon said, "We have to chalk that original CT scan up as one of God's great and many wonders."  The scans immediately following this diagnosis showed that the cancer was contained and at that point she required no further treatment.  However, a follow-up scan in August showed that it had spread throughout her lymphatic system and many areas within her bones - hips, arms, legs, and vertebrae.   A new diagnosis of Stage IV Neuroblastoma meant a grueling treatment protocol for years to come, including very aggressive chemo, internal and external radiation, a stem cell transplant, and antibody therapy at the very least.  Isabella’s mother Abby says, “We put on our armor of faith and prepared for battle.”  And battle they have!  Isabella has been back and forth to Children’s Hospital in Dallas undergoing some hard and harsh treatments and therapies, but she continues to do so with spunk and vigor and resiliency that only a precious gold child can!

Meet Sawyer Rucker, son of Joshua and Heather Rucker. Sawyer was a happy, healthy infant, the youngest of eight siblings.  In mid July 2014, he became increasingly fussy and lethargic, and anemia was suspected.  The pediatrician’s blood work showed an incredibly high white blood cell count, which led to his diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) at seven months old. Doctors estimated that the onset of his leukemia had occurred roughly a few weeks before, and that he likely had only 24 hours to live on the day of diagnosis.  He immediately began an intensive round of chemotherapy at Children's Medical Center of Dallas. Infant ALL is rare and aggressive, and the statistics are not encouraging.  But Sawyer’s family trusts that God has a perfect plan for Sawyer's life, however long that may be.  Sawyer is currently in remission with several months left of treatment.  Sawyer calls the nurses and doctors his “friends” and sings the whole way to and from his clinic visits, and all the days in-between as he takes his chemo at home.  His is the voice and face of a precious gold warrior child!

Knowing these stunning statistics and meeting these amazing childhood cancer fighters and their families, it is baffling to know that childhood cancer research is severely underfunded.  It receives less than 4% of the federal budget for cancer research.  So, what can you do!?  Be aware!  Say a prayer for these more-precious-than-gold children and their families!  You can even take a jog! 

Heather Rucker, Sawyer’s mom, organized the first ever Tyler Gold Run in September 2015 to bring childhood cancer awareness to East Texas.  The inaugural year was golden!  Over three hundred registered participants and two hundred plus volunteers honored almost a dozen local childhood cancer hero families, including Isabella Godwin and Sawyer Rucker.  The Gold Run’s donation to Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research exceeded $17,000!  Heather says, “Thank YOU for making our event such a wonderful success, and for impacting the lives of children battling cancer!  This year will be even BIGGER and BETTER!” 

If you want to be a part of this amazing event this year on Saturday, September 24, 2016, visit http://getmeregistered.com/TylerGoldRun.  It is more than just a chip-timed 5K event for runners.  There is a Family Fun Run for walkers and runners of all ages, a Kid’s Dash with medals and prizes, outstanding prizes for the top finishers, a bounce house and face painting for kids, and free lemonade!!  Not a runner?  You can support childhood cancer research and awareness by registering as a non-runner Gold Dreamer and still qualify for great prizes while sleeping in.  You are even welcome to just join the fun for a beautiful golden morning in the park.

Childhood cancer is real, and it is in East Texas; but we can celebrate and support these golden warriors, especially in September, because our children are indeed more precious than gold.


Register for the Gold Run, see last year’s results and pictures, and read some golden stories at www.tylergoldrun.com

Follow Isabella’s Journey at

www.caringbridge.org/visit/teamisabella

Follow Sawyer’s journey at

www.caringbridge.org/visit/sawyerrucker