“Hey Brady, buddy your pants are on backwards.”
It’s a sentence anyone would expect to hear from the lips of a parent of a 4-year-old.
Usually, it’s an exasperated sigh, but coming from Eric Cremeens, it’s a chuckle.
Brady is the younger brother of 9-year-old Ryan.
And Ryan has cancer.
Eric and Angie Cremeens have a family like any in the U.S. The biggest difference is their son Ryan was diagnosed with cancer the summer of 2016. The first sign that something wasn’t right was issues with vision and from there, the diagnosis became more apparent.
“The doctors found a mass in his left sinus, which they originally thought were two tumors, it ended up being one that originated in the sinus,” said Eric.
Originally from Kentucky, the Cremeens family has been spending their time in St, Louis doing treatments at the Children’s Hospital.
In doing that, Ryan has had to leave his school and friends.
“He loves school. Unfortunately with his treatments, we’ll be gone for seven weeks in St. Louis for chemo, so he’s unable to go consistently to school. Now that he’s feeling better, the school allows him to come and go because he participates, he’s a good student,” said Eric.
Eric also notes that school has been a huge impact on Ryan as far as keeping his spirits lifted because when he does get to go, his classmates are so excited to see him and include him.
Also, being in St. Louis for this long amount of time has had its advantages.
“The middle schools around here invited him to a football game. They presented him with a football in a show of support. Sports have been a huge thing for him throughout all of this, as far as keeping him positive.”
He’s had a lot of support from athletes in St. Louis schools, as well as professional athletes.
“He is a huge, huge sports fan. He loves University of Kentucky football, basketball, and Chicago sports, the Bears and the Cubs. He’s had some athletes reach out to him, so that’s a big thing for him.”
Being an avid Cubs fan is part of what keeps Ryan so positive.
“Miguel Montero left us some VIP passes and he met us and left us tickets for the second game for a double header,” Eric recounted about the last Cubs game they went to.
Apart from sports, Ryan has the support of his family and parents who are focused on getting the word out there that childhood cancer is real and it can happen to anyone.
When I asked Eric what he would want people to know about childhood cancer, he answered with this poignant response, “That it can happen to you and it’s grossly underfunded. My wife and I both work in the health profession. I’ve seen cancer patients pediatric through geriatric and you see the commercials, you hear about the facilities, you know about the fundraisers but there’s not a person on the face of this earth who can say they ever imagined their child is going to get that diagnosis.”
This is a cause worthy of attention.
Being able to give a kid with cancer the childhood they aren’t able to experience is a reward in and of itself.
Least of all, we can start acknowledging the effect it has on not only the child, but the family.
It’s hard to imagine your life being turned upside down.
It’s difficult to process when the future is not only uncertain, but unimaginable.
It’s impossible to understand when it happens to you.