It’s not every day you hear a story that truly inspires you, but when you do, it can be beautifully eye-opening. Several weeks ago, I came across an article discussing a young boy, who makes and sells unique bracelets in order to raise money for children with cancer . Wow, so thoughtful and selfless…Upon further reading, I discovered this darling boy making these bracelets, actually has cancer himself…spitzoid melanoma: a rare version of the deadliest form of skin cancer. UV Skinz had to reach out to Graham and his family! Since the warm reception following my introduction, Graham’s mother, Cheryl, has been kind enough to share Graham’s story with us.
Here is Graham’s Story
Graham is 6 of 8 children from Fridley, Minnesota. He is in 4th grade at Westwood Intermediate School in Spring Lake Park, Minnesota. Graham was a healthy, normal 9 year old boy that loved school, sports, circus class, and playing with his friends. One teacher described him as, “The homecoming king of the 3rd Grade.”
Graham was a healthy, normal 9 year old boy that loved school, sports, circus class, and playing with his friends.
In early 2013 Graham developed a small, raised bump on his arm, that resembled a blood blister. He picked at it, and it would bleed more than a normal scab. It continued to grow back, so we asked his pediatrician to remove it. We were not concerned in the least. It did not look concerning. His doctor was not concerned. After the removal, his pediatrician said that it looked, “Inflamed” under the microscope, but nobody was concerned, they thought it was because he had picked at it so many times. They took a little more, and again told us not to be concerned. We named the little bugger, “Adolf.” “Adolf” continued to fascinate the pathologists, and they continued to take more of Adolf. Nobody seemed concerned, or even used the word cancer. Adolf went on tour, to many pathologists. On April 19th, 2013, Graham was diagnosed with Spitzoid Melanoma. On April 23rd, he had Adolf removed, along with several lymph nodes.
It continued to grow back, so we asked his pediatrician to remove it. We were not concerned in the least. It did not look concerning. His doctor was not concerned..
Graham has a fascinating history, including a first cousin who had melanoma as a child. His tumor was classified as Clarks Level V. His original surgery was at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, his follow up care at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He has a remarkable team of doctors at the Mayo Clinic that have made his journey easier. Graham’s Grandpa, Rod, has gone with Graham to each and every appointment. Since April, he has been struggling with pain in his leg. He has had several surgeries to attempt to minimize the pain, but so far, it has been unsuccessful…Graham’s follow up care includes PET Scans, labs and skin checks every 3 months, along with visits to his dermatologist and oncology team. He tries to stay out of the sun between 10 AM and 2 PM and wears sunscreen all the time. He is diligent about watching for changes in his skin.
During Graham’s hospital stays, he started, “Graham’s Gift.” He makes and sells bracelets for $1.00 each in hopes of raising awareness about melanoma and all childhood cancer kids. The money he raises is being donated to cancer research. As of today, he has raised over $15,000. He has shared his story in several states, and has plans to continue.
His life has changed drastically this year. He misses a lot of school, missed his 4th grade year book picture, misses field trips, and struggles to play sports. He just returned from his Make-A-Wish trip to Hawaii. He has traded in his tank tops for UV blocking clothing, he packs sunscreen in his backpack, and wears a hat. He is tired after school and relies on pain meds at night. He is still a happy little boy that loves life ~ he just got dealt a bad card……
What keeps Graham positive, and gives their family strength during such hardships?
We truly believe in the power of prayer. Graham has a tremendous support system. He has family, friends, and complete strangers praying for him. He reads every email, card, message and voice mail. He is truly touched with the outpouring of support that he has received. Graham’s courage is stronger than his fear.