Can I introduce you to a precious 7-year-old girl?
Her name is Julia Cobb.
And she is amazing.
|Here is Julia with one of the 25 horses that are a part of a digital mural that she helped to design, along with about75 other kids and their parents. It adorns the outside of M. D. Anderson's Children's Cancer Hospital in Houston, Texas and is named "Light, Hope, Wonder". Julia and her brother and sister named the mural and were able to cut the ribbon when it was unveiled, a celebration that included The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus. An article, and more pictures, about it can be found here.|
Funny thing is, though...I haven't actually met her. I met her dad in an elevator at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. According to U.S. News and World Report, M. D. Anderson is the number one hospital in the United States for cancer care. People come from all over the world for treatment here. They also come from Alabama, which is where Julia and her family lived before her diagnosis.
In my "normal life", I work a few hours a week as a speech pathologist at a local hospital during the week. This summer, however, I worked 3 full days a week at M. D. Anderson, a place I have worked for the last 13 years. I quit working there full-time 7 years ago, though, when my oldest was born. I now go back for short stints to help them out when they are in a bind.
I met Julia's dad the day before I left.
As I was leaving the ICU that day, I stepped into the elevator with Julia's dad, Jonathan. He was pushing a toddler in a stroller. He mentioned that he was, unfortunately, very familiar with this gigantic hospital and was able to actually help people find their way around. He shared that he had cancer back in 2006 and that his mom has cancer now.
He said his 7-year-old daughter, Julia, does, too.
My oldest son is 7.
Immediately, tears stung my eyes. It seems that every year that I return to that hospital, tears sting my eyes quicker than they did before.
I quickly wiped them away.
Julia's dad wasn't sad. He was upbeat and positive and encouraging and...well, amazing himself. As I stood in the hallway and listened to Jonathan talk about how inspirational his sweet daughter was to everyone around her, the only thing you could do was smile.
Our whole conversation began because he was wearing a positive shirt designed by Julia and her sister, Jenna, that made me curious about the story behind it. This one:
When Julia was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a very rare bone cancer that affects children and adolescents, Jonathan pointed out to Julia that the first three letters of the word "cancer" are C-A-N. They put Julia's nickname "Ju" together with those letters to make "JUCAN", which quickly became Julia's theme. On the back of the shirt are the words "JUCAN, YOU CAN, GOD CAN". He also pointed out that the word "Ewing" also contains the word "WIN".
They stay positive because they seem to know no other way.
Listen to Julia talk about the day she first learned something was wrong:
"Santa Claus was coming soon! As a six year old girl that's all I could think about. Shortly before Christmas I told my parents my shoulder hurt. and they discovered a big lump on my back. The doctors in Alabama said it might be cancer. My daddy, who is a cancer survivor, quckly put me on a plane and took me to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, the best cancer hospital in the whole wide world so I could be treated. The doctors at MD Anderson took a sample of my tumor and told my parents it was cancer on December 23.
It was sad for me to go to Houston with my mother and baby sister and leave my brother, Jonathan, my sister, Jenna, and Dad in Birmingham. I couldn't go to school with them anymore and play after school. They had to stay with my dad because he had to work. I don't like being away from all of my family and friends. But I know when chemo and surgery is over, I will run and play with them again because with Christ all things are possible."
Julia loves to support and encourage others in the midst of her trials. She has designed shirts and bracelets to raise funds not only for her situation and her family, but for friends of hers fighting cancer, too. This definitely makes my heart happy, as there are so many precious little ones at M. D. Anderson, and all over the world, fighting cancer at this very minute.
|Here is Julia encouraging the United States' Olympic team. Source|
I know it would mean TONS to Julia if she received an encouraging message from you on her Facebook page or via Twitter. You can also visit her blog HERE. I am certain her heart would be lighter if tons of us just "liked" her Facebook page and/or followed her on Twitter today as a way of showing our support for her and for children fighting cancer all over the world. Right now, the morning of August 6th, 2012, she has 851 followers on Facebook and 106 followers on Twitter. Let's bump that way up!
|Here is Julia meeting Tim McGraw at his concert with Kenny Chesney in Houston on Saturday night. Tim McGraw gave Julia his guitar pick. Julia shared on her Facebook page that one of her favorite songs was "Live Like You Were Dying". It is one of her Dad's favorites, too. Source|
As another way of cheering her on, I would LOVE to share Julia's newest Olympics-inspired shirt, designed by Julia and her sister, Jenna with you. Portions of the proceeds from this shirt will benefit the M. D. Anderson Children's Cancer Center. The shirt is $20, which you can purchase here. Today, though, I would LOVE to give three of you this shirt or, if you'd prefer, her purple "JUCAN" shirt or purple bracelet. All you have to do is leave a comment. I will pick randomly from the list, contact you in about a week and ask which you would like.
|Red, white and JU! Don't you love that?? Source|
Thanks for inspiring us all, Julia! You are a beautiful, beautiful girl!