In March 2007, 11–year–old Conor Smith was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The tumor was benign, but he still needed several months of chemotherapy.
“People would ask us if we had a CaringBridge website, but we didn’t think we needed one,” says dad, Tim. “We thought we were going to do five months of chemotherapy and be done.”
The Smiths used email to keep friends up to date. “But then we’d see people and they’d say, ‘I had no idea this was happening,’” recalls Tim. “It was impossible to send the emails to everyone.”
Easing the stress
After his chemotherapy was completed in September, Conor was still having symptoms. Another round of tests revealed he had developed leukemia. Facing three years of treatment, the Smiths set up a CaringBridge website.
“It’s so much easier to communicate with everyone,” says Tim. “It takes the pressure off of us to inform everybody individually. And it really does help to read all the great things people say.”
The Smiths have found that even family members they talk to regularly use the website. “My parents don’t have a computer at home, but my sister calls and reads all the entries and guest book messages to them over the phone,” Tim says.
The CaringBridge website has also been a big support for Conor. “He likes to go on the website and read the messages from everyone,” says Tim. “It always energizes him.”
When Conor was diagnosed, Children’s Hospital sent representatives to his school to do a presentation about leukemia for some of his classmates. “At the end of the presentation, they gave the kids the address for Conor’s CaringBridge website so their families would know what was going on,” says Tim.
After 14 months of treatment, Conor recently lost his hair. “All his friends understood why it was happening. They knew it was coming, which made it a lot easier on Conor,” Tim explains.
Conor is just one round of chemotherapy away from going on a maintenance schedule and doing great. The Smiths say they will continue to keep their family and friends posted about Conor’s progress though CaringBridge.
“My wife and I keep saying we wish we’d used it right from the start.”