June 14, 2009
Dear Friends of Prince Liam:
Gretchen and Larry asked me to write you all because they are polishing their armor at the moment, getting ready for battle. On late Friday they were given the news that Liam has had a relapse and will begin a course of chemotherapy treatment beginning Monday. He will also need a fairly complicated and delicate surgery in the upcoming weeks. It has come as a complete, devastating and disappointing surprise especially considering how great Liam looks and feels as everyone who attended his birthday party last weekend can attest.
She and Larry have much to do. Most importantly they must stay strong and rested and focused for Liam. So here are the things that you can do during this part of the journey. Remember that no acts of kindness are wrong-- it's just that some things are more appropriate and more helpful at times like these than others.
If the tone of this seems a little harsh, it isn't meant to be. It is just meant to give Gretchen, Larry, Ella and Liam the greatest amount of practical and helpful support at a stressful, tense and crazy time.
So here goes:
1) NO crying visitors. Only stiff upper lips. They'd love visitors, but only if you come with the intent of showering Liam with joy, either by bringing a craft project to do or a book to read.
2) No chair sitters. They need you if you are ready to run and explore and engage Liam in order to give them a break for a few minutes. For Ella’s friends’ mommies and daddies, Ella cannot be forgotten in this crazy time. She loves playdates but there are times they'll need to cautious of her exposure to others because of the risk it poses to Liam. Please have no one with a cough, cold, sniffle or anyone less than 100% healthy around Ella.
3) Don't ask questions about Liam when he or Ella are around. In fact, please don't ask a lot of questions in general right now about the details or the disease or outcomes. They don't have the answers and answering them is exhausting.
4) No one is allowed in the hospital room who doesn't believe that there is any other outcome than to battle this cancer beast back once again.
5) If you're not a local friend, you can hold a bake sale, buy some cookies (www.cookiesforkidscancer.org), do something to support their efforts to make more treatment options available for this insidious disease.
6) If you're not local and even if you are.... send a handmade card or music card to Liam and one to Ella - they love them.
7) Don't call. It is one more thing that will make them feel like failures as there will not be enough time in the day to take care of Liam and Ella, to calm them, to talk to doctors and nurses, to wage the battle and to rest-- even though that last part is next to impossible.
8) Do send an e-mail instead. Don't expect a reply but know they appreciate your note.
9) Don't ask Liam how he feels or Ella how her brother feels. Liam looks and feels great. When people ask him how he feels, it confuses him because he doesn't understand why people are acting like there's something wrong with him.
10) Pray if you pray, believe, hope, send love and good thoughts and only wonderful intentions during this time. We will take all of the powers of the universe right now. And know that we love you for your friendship and support....
Lee Woodruff who shares a birthday with Liam