Disease & Illness

Mom Shares The Grim Reality Of Childhood Cancer In A Single Photo

This photo of a boy battling leukemia is incredibly sad... and incredibly real.

One mom has regularly been sharing her son Drake’s battle with cancer on Facebook, but when she posted a recent photo of him, it quickly went viral.

“For anyone going through this horrible disease [cancer],” writes Drake’s mom. “It is about to get real, real hard and real quick.”

The photo—of her son in a pull-up, crying over the bathroom sink—is truly heart-wrenching.

His mom is quick to explain why she is sharing it.

“The picture I’m posting is from this morning, and before you scream and cry ‘Why would she post a picture of him in a pull up, the indecency,’ well, 1) it doesn’t show more than swimming jammers would, and 2) because life is not always politically correct and pretty, it is real. Life isn’t pretty, and cancer destroys a person.”

Drake, whom his mom refers to as “Stinky Joe,” was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia B-Cell (A.L.L. B Cell) in the fall of 2012.

hospital photo
Getty Images | Christopher Furlong

Drake’s mom has been sharing his journey in a dedicated Facebook page since the beginning and, over the past five years, they’ve had nearly 100,000 people join the page to support Drake in his battle.

The Facebook page is titled “Stinky Joe’s #1 Pit Crew.”

In the about section, it states: “Drake is an avid Cars fan and enjoys demo derby’s and figure 8’s. We ask that you join his ‘Pit Crew’ in support of him and his fight.”

In the photo update that eventually went viral, Drake’s mom goes on to write:

“This was this morning after carrying Drake to the bathroom. Yes, he is in a pull up because 75 percent of the time he can’t control his bathroom habits. This is skin and bones, because I have to beg him to eat ONE green bean for supper, or drink a cup of water throughout the day. This is having your son sleep with you at night because he is afraid of something happening and being alone, and by something I mean dying.”

She went on: “This is having middle of the night conversations with a 10-year-old, asking if he dies will he go to heaven and will he see his dad there and be able to talk and play with him. This is him being too weak to get out of bed or walk and needing to be carried or in a wheelchair. This is him falling asleep as someone is talking to him, because he is too exhausted.

“This is him, throwing up every medication I give him and him dry heaving because his stomach is empty except for the spoonful of yogurt I just gave him with his pills. This is having to take 44 chemo pills last week in a matter of 24 hours.”

“This is him telling me, ‘Mommy, I’m not going to make it.’ This is him not wanting to be touched, because it hurts too much, and using morphine to get through his day,” the post continues.

“This is him telling me he is scared and thinks he won’t see his eleventh birthday. This is him and me, telling him that I will continue to fight for him when he can’t. This is him and me, and our world.”

Drake’s mom ends her post, “This is him, Drake, Stinky Joe, my whole world. From the moment I found out I was pregnant till future forever, he has been my reason for life. He is my smile, my love, my heartbeat. He is also my tears, my heartache, my frowns. He is my life.”

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The post, originally written on Drake’s support page, was then shared on the “Love What Matters” Facebook page, where this heart-wrenching photo and raw story has been shared over 100,000 times.


The day she shared this post, Drake’s mom mentioned that while it was International Cancer Day, every day was cancer day for her family.

If you want to help out Drake, there’s a mailbox for love letters and other items.

The address is:

Drake Medinger
C/O Ericka
PO Box 1725
Tomball, TX 77377-1725

There’s also a crowdfunding page for Drake, which has raised more than $170,000.

 

According to the Love What Matters Facebook page, Drake loves movies, so his mom suggested sending iTunes gift cards. He is a big college football fan, particularly of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He also likes Pokémon and remote control cars and planes.