Many children are afraid of the dark or monsters under the bed. But for one little boy, what keeps him up at night is something much scarier.
That’s because 10-year-old Drake Medinger AKA “Stinky Joe” is fighting the battle of his life as he undergoes chemotherapy for Leukemia after being diagnosed in 2012.
Along with a photo originally posted on his Facebook page on February 15 and then shared on Love What Matters, his mom details just how devastating this battle has been on their whole family — and the real, heartbreaking reason why they can’t sleep at night.
Drake is seen standing over a toilet wearing only Pull-Ups. He is clearly in excruciating pain, having just been carried into the bathroom because he is too weak to get out of bed. It is a portrait of childhood cancer — the brutal reality of what this illness does to millions of people around the world every day.
His mother shared it with a powerful message and a disclaimer to everyone who may judge her for broadcasting such a revealing moment: “Life is not always f*cking politically correct and pretty, it is real … Life isn’t pretty, and cancer f*cking destroys a person.”
She continues, explaining the circumstances surrounding the photo and why it was so important for her to spread awareness of the disease.
That morning, Drake had been carried to that bathroom, having been too weak to get out of bed on his own. He is wearing Pull-Ups because “75% of the time he can’t control his bathroom habits.” His once healthy frame is now just skin and bones, as every day is a battle to get him to eat — even just one green bean and a cup of water.
And then there’s the fear, the all-consuming terror that he may not wake the next 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. This is having middle of the night conversations with a ten 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 what childhood cancer looks like. This is a tiny insight into what it feels like for children like Drake and parents like his mother.
Since it was shared by Love What matters on February 20, the post has garnered over 300k likes. Cancer affects the lives of millions every day. So for this mother to share what it’s like to walk a day in her footsteps, watching her little boy suffer in his brave fight to survive, pulled at heartstrings worldwide.
“I’m sitting here at work,” writes one Facebook commenter, “Tears just rolling down my face. There is nothing in this world I could say that would even express how much my heart goes out to your family and families like yours.”
“Your little man is EXACTLY the reason I am running the London marathon,” says another, “… in the the hope it will help to find a cure and further research into childhood cancer.”
And Drake and his mother are not about to give up yet, either.
“This is him, Drake, Stinky Joe, my whole world,” writes his mother. “He is my smile, my love, my heartbeat. He is also my tears, my heart ache, my frowns. He is my life.”
Love What Matters has since set up a special mailbox to collect cards and messages for Drake. You can also personally help contribute to Drake and his family’s fight against cancer here.