The Nations Family
Smile-A-Mile means so very much to our family! Looking back on our journey through cancer I am remined of the huge role SAM played in helping our family heal and showing us how to get our “happy” back. Our son Shepard was diagnosed with kidney cancer in February of 2014 and almost immediately the family structure we had began to crumble. We went from being a family who liked to travel, have friends over, go on family hikes, laugh, cuddle, and just be happy to a family who did nothing but go to doctor appointments. Sadness, fear, and loneliness are very real emotions that we all struggled to work through in the days following Shepard’s diagnosis. Our children were all very little at the time, just 5,4,2, and 1 and they didn’t understand what was happening but they knew it was very sad and scary. We meet our precious Smile-A-Mile friends in the waiting room before one of Shepard’s chemo treatments and they told us about camp and how we could all come as a family and enjoy all the fun activities SAM had to offer. We went to camp and they really took us in and loved on our whole family. Shepard saw kids who had no hair like him, and my other boys meet kids who had a sibling with cancer, and of course we met parents who had faced the unimaginable like us too. We spent the weekend enjoying our family in a way we had not been able to since Shep’s diagnosis. Smile-A-Mile truly gave us hope that maybe we could be ‘happy’ even living through cancer treatment. Shepard has been cancer free for a little over a year now and we still remain close to our SAM friends and look forward to seeing them at Children’s and other Smile-A-Mile events. I can’t say that we will ever be exactly like the family we were before cancer but SAM has helped us to find a new, perhaps even better version of our “happy” family and for this I am forever and ever grateful.