In honor of Melanoma Awareness Month, we’re sharing some #WhyICare stories that recently moved the room to tears at our Taste for a Cure Gala. Today, Cheryl Trocke of Minnesota opens up about how helpless it feels to watch her 14-year-old son Graham struggle on a daily basis. Cheryl, we are holding your entire family close in our hearts.
#WhyICare: ‘I Would Do Anything to Take Graham’s Pain Away’
I care because for five years, I’ve watched melanoma rob my son, Graham, of his childhood.
I care because Graham, now 14, rarely makes it through a day of school – the pain is so bad. He can’t wear jeans or tight-fitting clothes because of his swelling from all the surgical procedures he’s had. We stopped counting after the 20thsurgery. I think it’s over 30 now.
I care because: Recently, when we were consulting with his doctor where we live in Minnesota, Graham said: “When am I old enough to decide I don’t want to do this anymore? I hurt all the time. I’m behind in school. I’m not normal. I’m the kid who has to wear the sunscreen or the hat. I’m the kid who has the pain patch at school because I can’t take narcotics there. I’m tired.”
I care because I’m tired, too. I would do anything to take Graham’s pain away.
I care because Graham gets up a few times a night. Sometimes, I am up with him at 1 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock. First, we try the Ibuprofen, and then we try the heating pad. I try to elevate his swollen leg, and finally we turn to narcotics. And then I check on him constantly to make sure he’s still breathing.
I care on behalf of my other seven kids. On the days when Graham can’t go to school because of the pain, his 11-year-old sister, Quinn, will ask, ““Is the melanoma back, or is this ‘normal kid’ sick?” No 11-year-old should have to ask that.
I care because: Graham’s brother, Charlie, who is 13 and has autism, will say to me, “What am I going to do if my best friend dies?” What do you say? I have had far too many adult conversations with my sweet, innocent children.
For all of melanoma’s stubbornness and cruelty, Graham perseveres. He’s why I care.