Almost halfway home.

We’re moving along nicely here in our effort to raise $10,000 for the pediatric unit at Allegheny General Hospital and for the cancer unit at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

One of the things I wanted to share with you was a bit of information about how kids deal with cancer — how they deal with death when they’re young and suddenly, unexpectedly, terrifyingly within death’s reach.

These passages from Genre Baker‘s mother, Daunette, really illustrate that. It’s hard to read, but it also shows why it’s so important that we give these kids some distractions from the very very heavy burden they’re carrying.

Please read this, so you can know:

January 11, 2010:

Around 3:00 Genre could’t get up. He couldn’t walk. He had a hard time speaking. When I helped him to the bathroom, his legs just wouldn’t work. He tried to turn the light on and his hand couldn’t hit the light. He couldn’t turn it on. He couldn’t touch his nose, or the dr’s finger tip. His eyes were normal, but he said his vision was blurry. He had numbness in his arms and legs. He threw up and he couldn’t remember his phone number or answer questions. He was really scared.

January 16, 2010

I have not been able to update because Genre’s ‘paralysis’ continued through Thursday and, at some points, he was unable to move from his neck down. After I updated on Wednesday morning, Genre’s condition worsened quickly. He lost control of his legs first and then his arms. His back was so weak that he couldn’t sit up or roll over by himself. He was no longer able to squeeze my finger or push with his feet. As he got worse, he developed severe panic attacks which came frequently throughout the days and nights. He was so scared and he said he couldn’t breathe. He felt like he couldn’t swallow or get any air, and his heart rate would race to 165 and beyond. It was terrifying for him. The CT scan showed no bleeding. Thank God. The MRI showed no signs of Methotrexate toxicity ( a build up of chemo on the brain) and the EEG showed no seizures. By Thursday morning, Dr. Shaw suggested that Behavioral Health come in. Behavioral Health is just a new name for the team of psychiatrists and psychologists that help the kids at the hospital.

After the [psychiatric] doc spent some time with him, he assured me that Genre would be able to walk again. He assured me that they frequently see these types of issues with children who deal with such traumatic illnesses. He said that, most often, they see this ‘syndrome’ in bright kids who really understand their diagnosis and the consequence of the disease. He said this shows up in the kids who fully understand their treatment and what is being done to their bodies. Intellectually, the child understands more than he is able to deal with emotionally. Genre’s emotional capabilities haven’t caught up to his intellectual abilities when it comes to cancer. The two clash and the child crashes. He said that they also see this in kids who deal well with their illness. The children who just accept what is being done to them; who never complain about the changes that have been made in their lives; who never get mad; who never get scared; who never complain…those are the kids who sometimes just crash. He said it’s similar to post traumatic stress syndrome. Genre has dealt with so much for the past seven months. He’s just a baby and it’s all caught up with him at one time.

That’s why we’re giving. Because these kids ARE actually dealing with TOO MUCH.

If you haven’t yet donated to the effort, I’d really appreciate it if you could.


  1. Gina
    February 8, 2012 8:48 am

    Man, reading that sends me into a near-panic attack – it’s so heart-wrenching. I want to do as much as I can to help.

  2. HC
    February 8, 2012 8:54 am

    Everytime you post a new story, I donate again. My husband is going to look at our bank statement and be like, REALLY? 5 donations in 24 hours? I can’t help it! Its kids with CANCER!

    Awesome work!

  3. Virginia
    February 8, 2012 9:14 am

    Thanks, HC and Gina!

  4. Moxie Bestos
    February 8, 2012 9:37 am

    First time donor. And I don’t post to get a pat on the back for doing it. More like I’m posting to say thank you for giving me the kick in the butt to do it in the first place.

    • Virginia
      February 8, 2012 9:38 am

      Well too bad, because here comes your pat on the back … [thump thump thump]! THANK YOU!

  5. Evelina Krieger
    February 8, 2012 10:17 am

    Thank you so much for all your hard work- you inspire so much goodness in so many people! We here at Allegheny General Hospital are all very excited for what you are doing to help out all the kids, and the pediatric inpatient unit here!

  6. Dr. Robert Guthrie
    February 8, 2012 10:26 am

    We are so gratefull for your support of the children on our Pediatric Hospirtalist service at AGH!!!
    They so much enjoy the toys,movies and games you provide.It really helps them cope with the stress of being ill and in a Hospital -away from the safety of home!
    We and our patients are eternally grateful!
    Dr. Guthrie

  7. Sam's Dog
    February 9, 2012 6:45 pm

    Wow, that’s a tough read. Having gone through Chemo treatments, I think I have some understanding of what these kids endure, although my treatments were way easier compared to what I’m seeing here. During that time, I never allowed myself the luxury of self pity, having a close friend who’s daughter had leukemia, and another whose son went through open heart surgery due to an infection. In my mind, I didn’t dare feel sorry for myself when these kids hadn’t had the chance to do any of the things I’ve been privileged to do, (marriage, kids, etc.). This brings it all back around, and I still feel very blessed and also a little undeserving, in that I would do it all again if just one of these kids didn’t have to experience this. Thanks, Ginny for giving us an outlet to help these innocent victims in a small way.