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By Alanna Kennedy

Cancerblog

A young girl faces cancer

By Alanna Kennedy


Last May, Phil and Adria Burns of Mapleton, Utah, took their 22-month-old daughter, Serenity, to the doctor after they noticed she had been bruising easily and running a fever. The doctor decided to do blood tests to eliminate the possibility of leukemia. “I was dismayed that he said ‘leukemia’ because that wasn’t at all what we were there for,” says Phil Burns. He and his wife, who have seven other children ages 3 to 17, had thought Serenity just needed antibiotics. The blood test, however, discovered something that antibiotics couldn’t fix: Serenity had acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL).

At the time, the Burnses both already had their own blogs and were actively involved in online communities. After learning about Serenity’s condition, friends of the family created a new blog called Lifting Up Serenity. The page aggregates updates about Serenity from both of her parents’ blogs as well as Twitter (a social networking and microblogging service). “My wife and I live our lives online,” says Phil Burns, explaining why he and his wife share updates about Serenity’s treatment and progress online. ”This was just a natural progression for us.”

In this excerpt from June 18, Adria Burns talks about caring for a sick 2-year-old and finding comfort through the internet.

A Mile in My Birks
By Adria Burns

Some friends and church members have offered to take my other kids occasionally so that I can focus on Serenity. I cannot tell you what a huge help this is to me. Not only are my other kids having a blast at other homes (some have pets! or babies!), but it is really hard for me to meet the needs of the little ones and still attend to Serenity. She is so moody and sick that if we don’t spring into action the second she asks for something she begins crying almost immediately and it’s a lot of work to get her calmed down. I hope that I haven’t made her sound spoiled; this isn’t it at all. Because she is in so much pain, and because she can’t move anywhere by herself, she is completely dependent on us to help her with everything. I know it is very frustrating for her. Less than a month ago she was running and yelling and playing all hours of the day.

As an aside, I have spent the last few days consuming the posts on Isabel’s blog. Isabel was diagnosed with leukemia almost two years ago. Like Phil and I, Isabel’s mom blogged everything. I cannot tell you how comforting it is to read her thoughts. Much of what I am thinking, wondering, & feeling I see reflected in Isabel’s blog. I’m able to see the changes in Isabel in the photos: from emaciated and sick like Serenity is, to a happy and healthy looking little girl. Isabel went through many of the same procedures and experiences that Serenity is undergoing now.

In reading Isabel’s blog, it really hit home to me what a few people have said. By chronicling our journey with Serenity, we are hopefully creating a place for future parents and loved ones to feel at home and understood when their child is diagnosed with leukemia. There is nothing like knowing that someone else understands exactly what you are going through.

To read more of the Burnses’ blog, please visit: www.liftingupserenity.com/blog.

To recommend a blog for CR’s Cancerblog column, send an e-mail to Kennedy@CRmagazine.org.