Samantha Tapley sits by her son's side as he lays sleepily in his hospital bed at the Backus Children's Hospital. She rarely leaves, and when she does it's only for a few minutes. "He's the center of my attention right now. I can't think of anything else," said Samantha.
Since doctor's diagnosed seven year old Christopher five years ago with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL, hospital visits have become a regular part of the family's routine. After relapsing this past July, doctors and his mom, are hoping his treatments will put him back in remission. But at this point, it may take a miracle." I'd trade places with him any day. it's just something you don't want to see," Samantha said sadly.
But cancer is a disease more and more families, like the Tapley's, are having to face." In Savannah, we're going to see between 20 to 30 new cases this year," stated Heide Elliott.
Elliott is a registered nurse at the Pediatric Oncology Unit at the Backus Children's Hospital at Memorial Health. She sees first hand the devastation cancer can have on children and their families. She is also spearheading St. Baldrick's day, raising money for childhood cancer research. "Someday I'd like to stand here and say,' I don't have to work in children's oncology anymore because there is a cure,'" exclaimed Elliott.
Most of the children here are treated through clinical trials. It's state of the art cancer treatment right here at home. The survival rate is 80 percent, but Elliott said those statistics still aren't good enough." We've got 20 percent to go. The job's not done. And until we find a cure, until we never lose another child from cancer, we've got work to do."
And lives to save. The fundraiser gives parents, like Samantha, hope their child will beat the disease. "That he lives to be 90 years old, and that life is going to be good for him," she smiled.
Elliott and others will be shaving their heads to help children, like Christopher, this Saturday for St. Baldricks Day. The fundraiser will start at 2 PM at Sluggers Sports Cafe off Abercorn Street. All the proceeds raised will go to the Children's Oncology Group for research, which the Backus Children's Hospital is a part of.