These days, Facebook may as well be called Babybook, with parents everywhere gleefully posting adorable snapshots of little ones smiling, crawling and smearing mushed peas all over their faces. But Trisha Bumpus is more prolific than most. She posts photos of her daughter Lilly every day, and many of the photos bear a powerful number: the number of days Lilly has been cancer-free.
The Bumpus family got the news that their daughter had beat Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer, just before Lilly turned 1 this past summer. By then, the family had amassed thousands of fans on a Facebook page dedicated to tracking Lilly’s treatment.
Since they stopped treatment for cancer, the page has largely become a celebration of Lilly’s life “outside the glass” — that is, outside of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where Lilly had spent most of the first year of her life.
Fans get peeks into Lilly’s life as she does everything from the relatively mundane — e.g. having a tea party, running on her driveway — to the out-of-the-ordinary, like receiving VIP treatment at Disneyland and meeting Miss West Virginia.
I’ve never met Lilly, but it’s been a joy to watch this gorgeous little girl looking healthy and radiant while having the fun she deserves. Still, I had to wonder, why did the Bumpus family persist in posting so, so many pictures? Now that Lilly was healthy, why wouldn’t they want to just resume their lives outside of the public eye?
I wasn’t the only one with that question. Trisha Bumpus recently posted a Facebook status addressing that very issue.
It’s about finding a cure — and saving Lilly, Trisha wrote.
People ask all the time why we don’t just stop Facebook and Instagram and live a normal life now that Lilly is cancer free. I have to get as much awareness and need for help and anything closer to finding a way to cure Lilly while she is healthy. She has a 70% relapse rate. Before she is 5. So this is why I do all of this. I have to find a way to save her if it comes back like they say it will. As her mother it is my job to protect her. And that is what I am doing. So if you don’t agree with the choices I am making or have ANY negative views about this then unfollow please. We are in this for the long run. I will save my daughter.
Lilly Bumpus: Life After Cancer 1 of 8
Watch Lilly Bumpus thrive after beating cancer.
Showing Off Her Superpower 2 of 8
This photo was taken just a few weeks after Lilly was officially diagnosed as cancer-free.
Two Months Cancer Free 3 of 8
Feeling the grass under her feet was a pleasure Lilly was denied for too long.
76 Days Cancer Free 4 of 8
Lilly enjoys the California sunshine, living life "outside the glass."
105 Days Cancer Free 5 of 8
Here Lilly is shown brushing her hair "for the first time in her life," her mother wrote on Facebook.
126 Days Cancer Free 6 of 8
Even fearless cancer warriors need a nap every now and then.
Six Months Cancer Free 7 of 8
Lilly has gone from a balding patient to a healthy, radiant redhead... but she's had the same, beautiful smile all along.
184 Days Cancer Free 8 of 8
Drink to your health, Lilly!
In an email to me, Trisha explained that the frightening stat about the relapse rate is based on her own research. There have been just a handful of babies, like Lilly, who were born with Ewing’s sarcoma. Among them, Lilly is the only one alive.
“Since her cancer is so rare it is truly unknown,” Trisha said. “The 70% comes from the other kids that were born with Ewing’s sarcoma. It was based on how old they were before they relapsed and passed.”
In addition to being active on social media, the Bumpus family recently announced that they are working with a production company to produce a video to raise awareness of childhood cancer and push for an increase to federal funding for childhood cancer research. For more information on how you can participate, see the Lilly Bumpus Facebook page.
All photos used with permission and courtesy Lilly Bumpus Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/lilly.bumpus.9 .
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