Five years of chemotherapy. Thirty rounds of radiation. Three stem cell transplants. Stage IV neuroblastoma.
While Sarah Williams' life was a series of heartbreaking numbers, her parents, Susan and Bob, focus on the one number that matters most to them: the 11 years they got to spend with the spunky, sassy child who loved life beyond measure and exuded joy whenever she entered a room.
Today, the rooms in the Williams' Calhoun, Georgia, home are far too quiet; There are no giggle-filled sleepovers at their house, and the Williams didn't get to experience the drama-filled arguments they knew would come once Sarah started high school. Their floor is free of brightly colored clothes, and they don't have to push piles of make-up away just to get to the bathroom sink. Neuroblastoma robbed them of the opportunities most parents take for granted.
Life Changes in an Instant
Sarah was officially diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma on February 22, 2005, when doctors located a tumor behind the 5-year-old's lungs. A few months after her diagnosis, Sarah was introduced to Emily Ransom, who shared her neuroblastoma diagnosis, and the two girls and their families became friends. When Emily passed away and the Ransoms started Emily's Power for a Cure, the Williams family was among the foundation's first supporters and benefitted from the group's mission.
"Emily's Power for a Cure provided us emotional support when we needed it most," Susan says. "It's working to fund the research that will provide answers for the Sarahs, Emilys, Lana Beths, Jaydens, and Scotties—the local children who have passed away recently from neuroblastoma."
Susan and Bob have needed lots of that emotional support as they've learned to navigate life since losing their only child on June 24, 2010, and they've received an abundance from old friends and the families they met during Sarah's neuroblastoma battle. Each year, the Williams celebrate Sarah's birthday and her "Heavenaversary," with parties featuring the things Sarah loved the most. Susan and Bob started Sarah's Snacks to provide treats to children in the oncology clinic as a way to honor their daughter, and they continue to support Emily's Power for a Cure.
"I want the world to know that Sarah and others like her didn't die of a generic cancer," Susan says. "They died from neuroblastoma. It's not easily cured, the treatment for it is hell on earth, and it should be more important to save kids than it is to save breasts or prostates."
Emily's Power for a Cure couldn't agree more.