Once upon a time there were two people, one man, one woman. They met, dated, fell in love, got married and when the time was right, decided to begin a family. (Yes, I realize that in today's relaxed moral climate, the sequence of events varies widely, but this is my fairy tale, thankyouverymuch.) Now where was I? Ah yes, they became pregnant, both glowing from the anticipated joy and excitement that surely lay ahead of them. When asked by friends what they wanted, they answered simply, "It doesn't matter, just a healthy baby." As they greeted their newborn in the delivery room, all toes, fingers and Apgar scores indicated they had received their wish. They could ask for nothing more. The end.
Ask any decent, loving parents what they value most in the world. Remember, decent and loving are key words here. The answer will not be their jobs, homes, bank accounts, exotic vacation plans or SUVs. The answer will simply be their children's health.
I am no different. I am thankful each and every day to have given birth to three beautiful, healthy, intelligent, capable daughters. Why I won the genetic lottery three times in a row, when other equally decent, loving parents delivered fragile, precious challenged children, I cannot say. I only know that I do not take my daughters' health for granted and would not trade the breaths they easily take for any amount of money in the world.
But then I am not Robert and Teresa Milbrandt of Urbania, Ohio. Oh, and let us not forget Grandma Mary Russell. All are currently in police custody for fundraising on behalf of the couple's seven-year-old daughter, Hannah, who suffers from one of the most insidious diseases a child may face.
Unfortunately, what afflicts Hannah is terminal. For while infections may be treated and cleared, cancers can be fought, even defeated, and organs may be transplanted, Hannah is plagued with morally bankrupt relatives. And there is no cure for emotional wastelands, pathological deception or plain and simple greed.
You see, Hannah was convinced by them that she suffered from leukemia, and made to be an unwitting pawn in her parents' scheme to win sympathy and money from the community. It worked to the tune of roughly $10,000 before they were caught and arrested, and young Hannah rescued from the "Big, Bad Wolves" who had no compunction about shaving her head, feeding her sleeping pills and even placing her into counseling to prepare her for death. And the protective mask and large bandage covering a "port" for chemotherapy injections (that wasn't there) she was forced to wear? All the better to coerce donations with, my dear.
If you haven't figured it out yet, Hannah does NOT have leukemia.
In this day and age, I realize it should not shock me to hear of the levels and degrees of abuse heaped on our youngest citizens. It is daily, heartbreaking news. But for parents like me, the decent, loving kind, the kind who value every hug, kiss, sneeze, cough and booger our children make, it continually leaves me able to do little more than shake my head. I simply cannot understand the heart, mind and soul -- or lack thereof -- of those who would treat a child in such a way. If anything, it incites in me an "eye for an eye" mentality.
Abusive parents should be subjected to the same treatment they have heartlessly delivered upon their children. In Robert's, Teresa's and Mary's case, I think a little head shaving and real chemo treatments just might deliver to them the moral of this story: Don't Mess With A Good Thing. Thank your lucky stars each and every day for the blessing of a healthy child because there are millions of parents who will tell you, show you, that money cannot buy one.
I love my children. You love your children. We believe in the fairy tale. I only hope, now that Hannah is free from her nightmare, her fairy tale may begin and that hers is the very happy ending for which we all dream and that all children deserve.