September is National Childhood Cancer Month. Do you know of a family who has walked this path?
My friends who have cared for their children with different types of cancers share many of the same heartaches, challenges and yes, joys that we as a family experienced with our Robert. However, often the medical facilities I visited with Robert for his very rare mitochondrial disease were not the same facilities needed for children with cancer. Different medical specialists and much different journeys. Ultimately, I have found that the bonds formed with their “medical family” were very similar to ours, and included medical staff, faith-based communities and musicians who brought deep comfort through their instruments.
In honor of these young warriors fighting for their lives, I asked my friends, Justin, Michelle and Gabi Graves of I Am Courageous to share about their daily work with childhood cancer patients. Please keep reading to learn what the Graves family has found to be true.
We see the healing power of music as we share songs room to room in hospitals and through online live music events.
In 2012, when our daughter was six years old, she had two friends ages four and seven who were diagnosed with cancer. Our heart was to help these families through this difficult time and the best way we knew how to do that was through music. From that experience, I Am Courageous was born. We are a nonprofit creating uplifting music and entertainment for seriously ill children. Our mission is to ease pain, lift spirits and bring hope to children and their families facing incredibly difficult situations.
Some firsthand stories that we have experienced are:
While our family was doing the music at a camp for kids with cancer our daughter Gabi was talking with some of the girls at lunch and one of them asked her, “Do you think we are gross because we have cancer? That’s what the kids at school think.”
Gabi responded, “No, of course not! I think you all are the most courageous and strong people I’ve ever met and you inspire me to be brave like you.”
Another time while singing in the pediatric oncology clinic in San Antonio, a nine-year-old girl, in her last days of life, requested her favorite song “True Colors”. As I sang to her she closed her eyes and sang every word along with me. Although she and her family were facing the hardest part of life, that moment was all about the joy of singing together.
An additional experience was while we were visiting a hospital singing room to room, we entered the room of a precious three-month-old who had just come back from surgery. As we sang songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “You are My Sunshine”, the parents started crying and shared that our music was “medicine for their soul that goes in through the ears and straight to the heart.” This is why we do what we do.
Through our songs our hope is to encourage these kids to keep fighting and remind these warriors that they are brave, strong and courageous. We love seeing and hearing the stories of how music has helped these families through difficult times.
What we love most about creating encouraging entertainment for these pediatrics fighters is seeing the smiles and joy on their faces. It is such an honor to know that we can use our gifts to bring JOY to these warriors and give them something else to focus on, if just for a moment.
Do you know of a family in the hospital that could use uplifting music to help ease the pain? You know I believe music is necessary for this journey. Please consider if I Am Courageous could be that gift to someone you know.
You can learn more about I Am Courageous here: https://www.iamcourageous.net/