Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The baton has been passed, the fight continues

I want to thank you for following BJ’s fight with leukemia, for your fervent prayers, your support and words of encouragement, especially since his relapse in May last year. BJ was first diagnosed with "very high risk" pre-B cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on September 13, 2012 at the age of 11. Soon after he was diagnosed, he and I had a pretty deep conversation. He knew people were going to be watching him, watching our family and how we were handling this devastation. We clung to our faith in God and quietly fought together for 2 years and 8 months as the tight knit family that we are. We had incredible support from friends and North Lincoln Middle School, where BJ had just started the 6th grade. BJ didn’t expect or want any limelight or special treatment for the battle he was fighting. He didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for him either. He simply wanted people to pray for him. He wanted his peers to look at him and see a kid battling cancer, never complaining, still smiling, still joking, still living, still pressing on each day, and most of all, still trusting in God’s plan for his life.

After BJ’s leukemia came back with a vengeance on May 22, 2015, I started the “Cure For BJ Round 2” Facebook site. The sole purpose of putting his story in the public was to gather prayer warriors to lift him up during his toughest battle. We were all amazed at the tremendous amount of support from across the country, and even overseas. Being the humble teenager that he was, BJ was always shocked at the amount cards and letters, Facebook comments, and gifts from strangers that he received. We were very thankful for every thought, every prayer, every positive and uplifting comment, every card and letter, every picture drawn by a child, every dollar, and every gift.

BJ was a born-warrior. In his 8th grade year, his career testing indicated that he would be well-suited for a ‘protective’ career, such as military or law enforcement. He was a warrior for awareness of the prevalence of children’s cancer, a warrior for more research funding for children’s cancer and a warrior for Christ. He was loyal to those he cared about. He was protective of those he loved. He stood up for kids at school that were bullied. He was very patriotic and there is no doubt that if he had lived, he would have changed his status of “honorary” Navy SEAL, to a team guy, a Navy SEAL.

Toward the end, we felt that we were being led toward a natural treatment path. There were several instances of strangers who were walking this same road offering their insight on possible effective alternative treatments. BJ was very excited to meet Dr. Speight in Matthews, NC, after 3 different people in a matter of days suggested that we try to get BJ in with him. Turns out that his entire office already knew about BJ, had been following the Facebook updates and were praying for him. We felt we were in the right place, driven by a higher power. Imagine the shock when BJ passed away before he was able to get the help he needed. His body was too weak and ravaged by years of every possible chemo drug infused into his veins and two cutting edge immunotherapy treatments that did nothing but tear away at any muscle that he had tried to keep from disappearing from his bones. Even after BJ's outcome wasn’t what we expected or prayed desperately for, I still felt an urging to continue down that path. Getting BJ in to see to Dr. Speight was not a coincidence, and even though there was not enough time for this to make a difference for BJ, there are and will be other children who still have time.

After several months of knowing what we wanted to do, and finally through a dream, realized how to get there, we want to share some exciting news with you. On September 6, six months after BJ left us, THE STAND FIRM WARRIOR FOUNDATION was approved and created. We are still working toward the 501c3 designation. After much thought and possible choices, Carly and I settled on the name. It is the epitome of BJ on several levels, and I know he would approve of the name and the mission.

So as this year’s designated month of Childhood Cancer Awareness draws to a close, know that the fight continues. The warrior passed his baton to a force to be reckoned with, his willing and able teammates who will stop at nothing to keep his memory alive and make a difference for other kids whose bodies have become a battlefield. The primary mission of THE STAND FIRM WARRIOR FOUNDATION, in memory of my fierce 15-year-old warrior, will provide funding for research projects that are geared toward finding alternative treatments to chemotherapy/radiation for pediatric cancer. THE STAND FIRM WARRIOR FOUNDATION will also provide support for families with a child who has a cancer diagnosis, and will support the annual BJ Correll Warrior Award at North Lincoln Middle School.

PO Box 96
Denver, NC 28037

Ephesians 6: 10-18

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