A cancer diagnosis is never an easy pill to swallow. Indeed, it is a terrifying, life-changing fact that takes the strongest of us and brings us to our knees. That sense of injustice is only magnified when a child is involved.
Sure, the medical field is better equipped than ever to fight cancer, but there are still times when doctors are simply forced to accept that they can’t do more.
When the Spader family of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, learned that her 10-year-old daughter’s cancer was terminal, they set out to do something special before she passed away. Through a combination of efforts, they were successful in their goal.
When Rebekah Spader was just six years old, she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a condition that prevents immature blood cells in the bone marrow from growing to maturity.
Although myelodysplastic syndrome is not a cancer itself, some of its forms develop into leukemia later on.
Young Rebekah underwent a bone marrow transplant, but unfortunately it was unsuccessful. When doctors told her family that her condition was terminal, they were heartbroken.
Her parents made the overwhelmingly difficult decision to stop Rebekah’s treatment and instead tried to ensure that her remaining time was as spectacular as possible.
Fortunately, she had an inspiring older brother, A.J., who was ready to help in that endeavor.
I mean, she wanted to take her little sister, who had already turned 10, to her freshman prom.
“I want to spend as much time with her as possible while she’s still okay,” A.J. said.
AJ and Rebekah’s parents were proud and delighted in equal measure to see their two babies comforting each other.
Mom Stephanie said: “It makes me feel very happy for mom’s heart to know that maybe we have done something right by raising children who put other people first.”
Dad Tony, meanwhile, added, “He’s thinking about her sister and she won’t be able to go to prom or the formal when she’s in high school because she probably won’t, so I just wanted to give her that memory.” .
“I wanted to ask my sister, because she most likely won’t be able to experience high school,” A.J. explained.
“So I thought, ‘Why not invite her to a ceremony?'”
“Her laugh of hers is pretty good,” he continued. “It’s really fun to be around her and make memories of her. I want to spend as much time with her as possible while she’s still doing well.”
So, Rebekah went to the ceremony, which took place on Valentine’s Day in 2016, and her brother and sister had a wonderful time.
Tragically, little Rebekah passed away on August 4 of that same year, though her light will never truly go out.
During her battle, she remained strong, brave and loved helping others. This girl lived a life of generosity despite the hardships she endured.
After her passing, the Spader family established Rebekah’s Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises funds to send gifts to children currently undergoing cancer treatment.
The Spader family said: “The love that came from this little girl was so sincere, radiant and contagious…she was continually brave beyond her years as she struggled through so many very difficult days.”
Wow, what a truly inspiring and heartbreaking story. We send all our warmth and prayers to the Spader family for their loss, and pray that no other family ends up in the same situation.
At the same time, we would like to give A.J. the accolades he deserves for being a truly exceptional older brother to Rebekah.
Share this article on Facebook if, like us, you think this story should be read by more people.