Our youngest son, Joshua, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) at the age of 2½ years old. ALL is a blood cancer in which cancer cells penetrate every part of your body. For Joshua, this meant a long hard roller coaster of daily chemotherapy, transfusions, spinal injections, hospital stays, and frequent trips to the cancer clinic, a compromised immune system and many other long-term side effects. Joshua has endured over 1200 doses of chemotherapy over a 3 1/2-year time period.
In August of 2014, his cancer was officially in remission and he ended his chemotherapy. He still suffers from side effects from the treatment and is at a much higher risk for other cancers and side effects due to the treatment.
Throughout Joshua’s journey, we were blessed with many resources, a robust support community and the opportunity to attend a variety of camps and retreats. Since a local retreat was not available for our entire family we traveled long distances including a trip to New England to be able to have this experience. The time at the retreat was so valuable to our entire family including Joshua’s brothers, Justin and Charlie. It gave us the opportunity to be a family and for a short time forget about the worries of treatments, hospitals, and financial difficulties that burden many pediatric cancer families. It also gave us time as a couple and with other parents to forget about the stresses that cancer treatment brings. During this time and ongoing our family found faith and fellowship was so very important. This experience lifted us up- allowing us to truly appreciate each day with Joshua and our family as a gift.
We created BayStar Family Retreat to provide this unique experience to families going through a similar fight with their child. Our vision is that we can provide a place where families can spend time together making memories without worry of costs while building a life-long support community. For many, this may be their last vacation they experience as a family. We want to “be the light during the fight” for all pediatric cancer patients and their families in the Tampa Bay area.
How you can help
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