Seth Harris, at age 10, was diagnosed with T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on July 25, 2007. He fought this disease until the very end with all his might. After just turning 12 years old on May 15, 2009-on May 31, 2009, Seth died of complications from transplant-VOD, he did not die of leukemia. Seth was an only child and a hero. Please visit his foundation website to see how we are continuing the legacy of courage, which he started - www.shccf.org
Seth is/was the 12 year old son of Chad and Dawn Harris. He is the grandson of Rex and Helen Lee and Don and Peggy Harris. His home is in Bay Springs, MS and he attends Sylva-Bay Academy where he would be in the sixth grade this year (if he could attend). He enjoyed football and basketball before his sickness and loves to hunt and ride his four-wheeler. Seth has just started playing the guitar. He has two dogs, two horses and has the biggest heart a boy could have. He has no siblings but he has a special cousin, Emilee and special Aunts-Dana and Rhonda.
Dear Friends and Family,
Seth was sick a few days in June and the entire month of July with his stomach. He had nausea and stomach cramping almost constantly and lost about 10 pounds in that time. He was diagnosed in early July, by a local doctor, as having a bad stomach bacteria and treated with stout medication but when the medication did not help we took him to UMC's emergency room. He was diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (wbc was 259,000-normal is between 5,000-10,000) and he also had cells present in his CNS (spinal fluid). Our lives have been changed forever since July 25, 2007. We have found our Heavenly Father all over again and have learned to pray unlike ever before. Seth is our only child and has been our world since May 15, 1997, we are a close three and always will be. Please pray for our baby, he has the fight of his life ahead of him but he has many family members and friends by his side and thank you all for your love and prayers and for taking the time to visit his web-site.
The Harris', Chad, Dawn and Seth
TRUST YOUR HOPES, NOT YOUR FEARS.
UPDATE: Seth hit maintenance right before his 11th birthday in May, 2008. Not an easy task, but he did it. Right before maintenance he began having seizures brought on by IT meds. (spinal meds). MRI showed there was change in the white matter and fluid around the nerve bundles. We pray that these changes are reversible and Seth will continue to be a happy, healthy child with no long term complications. He will remain on seizure medication for a year. He completed 10 days of cranial radiation and remains in remission. He will receive chemotherapy for another two years, along with spinals.
UPDATE: January 15, 2009-Seth has relapsed in his CNS (spinal fluid), our next journey is a bone marrow transplant.
PRAYER DOES NOT COST ANYTHING BUT CAN CHANGE SO MUCH.
May 31, 2009-Seth earned his angel wings. Seth got his transplant just two days before turning 12 years old. Seth died of complications from transplant-veno occlusive disease (a disease of the liver from too much chemotherapy/radiation treatment) and the fact that a medical professional and team of board members were not as willing and committed as family members and friends to get a drug to him (the only drug proven to work) in a timely manner. After days of trying non stop, family, friends and complete strangers were able to move mountains and get the drug "defibrotide" to Seth, however, it was too late and his body had began to shut down. Seth held on as long as he could, he amazed doctors in ICU and overcame many obstacles. He will always remain our best friend, our wonderful son and grandson, our deer hunter, our buddy, our angel, and most of all our hero. He will remain in our hearts forever and missed until we meet again. We, his parents, feel like Job 3:25-26 "What I feared has come upon me; What I dreaded has happened to me; I have no peace, no quiteness; I have no rest but only turmoil.
Thank you for following his story and legend! Keep praying for us as we learn to pray again.
Chad and Dawn Harris (parents of Seth Harris-the three amigos 4-ever)
Update; Seth's baby sister was born May 20, 2010, almost a year after we lost Seth. Saydee Hope Harris gives us a reason to get out of bed each day and hope for a future worth living again. She favors her big brother tremendously.
The Seth Harris Childhood Cancer Foundation has been formed in memory and in honor of Seth. So that his life will continue to touch and help those affected by this horrible disease. For more information visit www.shccf.org
Dec 20, 2013 11:03am
I wrote the following and spoke at the MS Assoc board of nurses annual convention back in October. I was asked by one of Seth's and our favorite nurses and could not turn her down, for all they do, it was the least I could do in return:
The Seth Harris Childhood Cancer Foundation was organized after my son, Andrew Seth Donavon Harris, lost his battle to T-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia on May 31, 2009. Seth was diagnosed July 25, 2007 and fought a very courageous and inspirational fight.
The foundation's mission is to celebrate the life of Seth Harris and to honor his memory, to raise awareness for childhood cancer and to provide informational and emotional support for families of children with cancer, so that no family feels alone during this life changing journey.
Seth, my son, could have easily been "websters" definition of a country boy. He was obsessed with hunting, passionate about four-wheeler riding and had a love of everything about the outdoors. Thank God he was born in the South or maybe being born in the South made Seth who he was. But he was truly country, he was boy and his heart, smile and bright blue eyes were the first thing you saw when you met him. He had just turned 10 years old in May when cancer slammed into our lives in July. Seth was the picture of perfect health until the summer of 2007, which is why we were all so surprised with his diagnosis. Seth's symptoms consisted of stomach complaints, nothing that would have made us think that childhood cancer would become our worst nightmare. His white blood count, at diagnosis, was 259,000- the normal range being between 5-10 thousand. Seth was admitted to PICU immediately at BEB and although he was labeled an early rapid responder to chemotherapy, he was still considered high-risk due to his CNS involvement. Our daily lives were now centered around "road maps", CBC's and ANC's, all of which any cancer patient will recognize. Seth hit the maintenance part of his therapy right before his 11th birthday, in May 2008 and the "three amigos" (which was what we often referred to our little family as) began to live life to the fullest each and every day, not letting cancer stand in our way. Thankfully our friends, our family members and community offered support and love to help us through our son's cancer journey.
The news of Seth's relapse came on January 15, 2009, with the only option being a bone-marrow transplant. He went in the hospital for transplant just before turning 12 years old. He spent his 12th birthday on the bone marrow transplant unit floor having just received his new marrow one day before his actual birthday on May 15th.Just three days after Seth's transplant, he began to show signs of complications from his radiation treatment. Once admitted to PICU, he was diagnosed with veno-occlusive disease. The one and only medication known to treat VOD, Difibrotide, was unavailable at the time at the University Medical Center in Jackson, MS. And while family, friends and complete strangers struggled and fought to get this drug to him, Seth's body continued to shut down with each passing day. After two weeks in ICU, Seth passed on May 31,2009. Seth left we his parents and other family members with unimaginable grief. He was our only child, our hero, he was our heart.
We learned the hard way that Childhood Cancer occurs regularly, randomly, and spares no family. Childhood Cancer is life changing for the child, parents, siblings, extended families, and caregivers. These burdens may be physical, financial, organizational,emotional, psychological and spiritual.
As time goes on most parents describe their life as an emotional rollercoaster going from highs to lows of hope and fear. Along with the normally expected emotional reaction of the patient, the side effects of many of the drugs and treatment play havoc with the child's emotions. Additionally, the patient just grows sick and tired of being sick and tired.
For us: Childhood Cancer challenged everything we've ever believed about faith, religion, and really what life is all about. Nothing can possibly prepare anyone for having to make life and death decisions regarding their child.
When I read old caringbridge post, most times it feels like I’m reading about someone else’s life. I don’t think we ever let it sink in that death could be so close to our lives, we just kept pushing forward, with Seth's positive attitude, we were able to push on, we were not allowed to think any other way: Seth would be cured and that cancer would one day soon be a nightmare of the past. Maybe it’s a good thing that we never gave it more than a seconds thought, after all, how could we face reality until it struck us down? But our lives are now changed forever.
Our entire lives changed forever with Seth's diagnosis but our hearts and our faith changed forever with his death. To begin with, our hearts and faith were shaken but slowly, ever so slowly, we have found that our friends and family have picked us up and shown us more love than we could have ever imagined hereon earth. God's love shone down on us with the birth of Seth's sister, almost a year to the date of his passing. Saydee Hope Harris was born on May 20, 2010 and she is our hope in better days ahead and has given us a reason to live again. I take title to who I am, I am mother to one child who resides in Heaven and one child who resides here with us. Surely Seth's passing has left a scar so big that it threatens to swallow us whole some days, but most days we find many reasons to live on and love on.
Dragonflies have been my sign from Seth. I have become addicted to them. I notice and see them everywhere, I buy them, I collect them, I am obsessed with them. Beautiful four winged creatures who dart back and forth, that only grace our presence for 6 months out of the year. But they provide for me and others a sense of peace, pride, joy but yet a big old sting and heart tug that this is what my life has become-"I am a dragonfly lady", not because they have always been a passion of mine, not because I have always been drawn to them, not because I think they add beauty and charm to my house, not because of any or all of those reasons but because now, they are what I can have of my son. They are the one "new" thing that I can obtain of him. I can't take any new pictures of Seth, I can't have any new memories, stories, any item such as a class ring, no prom picture, not a driver’s license, a diploma, no video, no more Christmas or Birthday celebrations, no nothing, nothing new or recent about Seth but I can have a new dragonfly just about anything. They remind me that although I can’t see, touch, talk to or hug my son, I can look for dragonflies. Surely it is sad in so many ways, that I find joy in my child now in the form of an insect , but it is my peace, it is my sheer pleasure to fill my home with dragonflies.
The personal and family financial burden of cancer treatment is a major source of anxiety for the families of pediatric cancer patients.
In our efforts to help local families with the burdens of childhood cancer, we have accomplished a great deal in our 3 shorts years. We most recently helped raise the funds for the improvement/face-lift to the existing courtyard. This existing courtyard is empty, it is boring and has nothing to offer but an open spot outside. The plans are to put life into it, with beauty and activities for children and families. But the activities will all be handicap friendly, because we know that most of the kids will be wheeled out there or will be hooked up to IV poles or both. A cancer kids energy level is about the equivalent of a weak kitten. The funds came together quickly and with Mississippi's Sweet Potato Queens getting on board with our efforts, it was a great success. Hopefully improvements are being seen as I speak for some incredible, lasting improvements which will touch lives for many, many years to come. This courtyard will be used and available for any person or family at BEB, it will be easily accessible and friendly for all ages. We are absolutely thrilled that this came together and that other hospital members felt like we did, that this hospital had to have somewhere to go outside that was inviting, beautiful, an escape from all that was going on inside the hospital-this is greatly needed and we are thankful to be a part of it. We spent many hours with our "outdoor" loving child just staring at an ugly old parking lot, we are so happy that other families will actually have an area to go where they can actually relax, enjoy and breath and escape hospital life if even just for a few short minutes.
The foundation has been able to help Mississippi families, a few financially, a few with simple but very needed items, thankfully we have been able to make a difference. And what this has shown me: that there are still so many very wonderful, loving people who continue to be there for "us" all these years later and that people still hate to hear and know that children suffer from the disease cancer.
"Joy" is not something you see often in the world of cancer but when it comes around, you cherish it like nothing else and you hold it close to your heart forever. I know because so very many brought us joy during Seth's treatment and those moments, I will never forget.
So what I found to be true in this act of helping others is that- “You can find relief in your pain by serving others in theirs.” If one waits on helping others until their own load of grief is lifted, then that time may never come. Instead reach out in the midst of your own pain and make an unbearable load lighter for someone else and you might just find out that some of your load has been lifted also. "The one thing that we wanted most in life was to see Seth grow up and grow old, but that was not meant to be- so now we intend on doing the next best thing, helping other children feel loved and supported while they battle the cancer beast." We will never stop helping the hospital, Blair E. Batson/UMC will always hold a special place in our hearts, the doctors, nurses and staff were more like our family for almost two years. When Seth's ANC was low, his immune system down, nurses and other staff members were sometimes the only friends Seth could safely visit with and we truly created lasting friendships at of all places, a hospital. I keep in contact with many of them and I hope to always be a part of their lives. We had favorite nurses on 3C, favorites in the cancer clinic and then there were those few, whom we felt like we had known all of our lives. Thank God for the calling and the paths these precious individuals felt lead in, they certainly made our lives a little better by being so sincerely loving of our only child during his cancer journey. We cannot imagine how difficult and painful our journey could have turned out had we had unloving, uncaring and unprofessional staff but we were blessed beyond measure and will always be grateful, grateful not for cancer but for the bonds created while fighting cancer.
Our youth club kids and volunteers have done awesome with their drives and have benefited children and families in incredible ways. The foundation did the "adopt a floor" project last November and provided non-perishable food items for patients and families for an entire week. A keurig (coffee) machine was purchased and donated to the families on 3-C, the floor we stayed on with every hospital admittance with Seth. Last October we donated hundreds of bags of candy for the hospitals Halloween festival, and just in time, as we learned that the annual donor fell through for the carnival that the hospital holds every year for the patients, we were able to do this “project” once again this Halloween. We held a kleenex drive and I still have a tower of boxes that allow us to make the occassional run to the hospital with 30 or so boxes as the cancer clinic needs them. And we just sent a third supply of "overnight care packages" to patients and families, with toiletry items packed in them, so families don't have to leave the hospital to purchase these necessities for unexpected overnight stays. This past Christmas, we hauled 877 toys to the hospital for in-patients on all floors during this holiday season. Our youth volunteers have been absolutely incredible, our adult members and volunteers have been nothing short of miracle workers and as faithful as the day is long. And as if our hearts were not touched enough with foundation work, two of our locals just recently donated their bone marrow via stem cells (blood cells) through "Be the Match" bone marrow registry. These two individuals are heroes among heroes, as they acted to save a life that otherwise would have had no chance at a second chance. And they both thanked Seth for their courage to do so, in this all so selfless act of courage.
Since Seth was first diagnosed in July of 2007, it has been a mission of my families and friends to raise awareness and funding for this disease. September comes around each year and those of us in the childhood cancer community pounce. You see, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and the color for it is GOLD. Were you aware? Of course, who is not aware when October approaches, as the pretty pink ribbons flood everywhere and are on everything from what we buy on a weekly basis to the events we gather at. Yet, this one single month, September, is our chance for us in the childhood cancer community to tell our stories to a broader audience.
Given the fact that at least seven children pass away each day from cancer and another 36 are diagnosed, I would like to think that every day of every year is childhood cancer awareness day. The disease does not know the difference and does not stop killing our children once September 30th hits. My hope in reading this today, is that just one person becomes aware of the toll of this disease beyond what may have been a simple understanding or appreciation. My hope is that one person listening is moved into action. So that others may learn more, or simply by thinking about all the kids who suffer on a daily basis and the toll that suffering takes.
In the end, we need to do more to fight this disease. That certainly could be said about many other diseases out there and I fully appreciate this fact. For obvious reasons, childhood cancer struck me more than anything else, and this is my rally cry. September rolls around for thirty days each year. It is our chance to shine a light on the disease before the world turns pink and our kids are sat back in the corner. It is my chance to tell Seth's story again and present the hero that I know to the world. And it is a chance for the childhood cancer community to elevate the disease into the collective consciousness of an ailing nation.
The headlines should tell the story of the death of seven children today, tomorrow and the next day. Each and every single child taken by this disease is a tragic story that deserves to be told so that we can work to ensure that the cycle is broken. This massacre continues at an unrelenting pace. Please do not let these kids be forgotten.
Seth legacy and Seth's foundation is what helps strangers know and learn about the amazing person he was. All the while, helping other local families, fighting for their child's survival from this disease. He lived life to the fullest, maybe knowing all along, that he should take advantage of every minute because it might be his last. We always joked that he was an old soul living in a young man's body, little did we know that the young boy would never be allowed to grow up.
This is one of the latest pictures of Saydee. Our love and our lives.
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Seth loved to receive a message, on a bad day he'd just look at the names of those who had signed. Thank you, who continue to lift us up and provide us with the strength we need to face our days now without him.
Seth's CaringBridge site is made possible through donations. You can make a donation to CaringBridge.