Cancer Through a Child’s Eyes with Sebastian

Our Facebook fans have became spirited cheerleaders for a brave hero. I first met Sebastian in 2010 during his mother’s battle with breast cancer, more specifically labeled stage 4 invasive ductal and inflammatory breast cancer. Throughout her battle, Sebby was a determined little caregiver beside his dad. Then just as his mom was coming out of the battle, Sebastian entered into it. In January 2011, he was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia). Sebby believes that he will be cured. With parents like Rick and Jennifer, an army of prayer warriors and an excellent medical team, it’s no wonder Sebby is confident that they’ll beat this one too.

Just before Sebby’s week at camp, I had the honor of sitting down with him for an interview. He wanted to share his story—in his own words. I wanted others to know what cancer is like through a child’s eyes. As a parent, it can be very difficult to share a cancer diagnosis with a child. It has to be even more difficult to tell a child that they have cancer, especially when it’s hit your family before. Sebby’s family confronts cancer with honesty, courage and faith; knowing them feels like an incredible blessing. 

Meet my buddy Sebastian. He prefers to be called Sebby. He’s a handsome and compassionate 10-year old boy. He smiles when I talk about his hitting the “double digits.” He’s made it through 17 months of chemotherapy and has two more years of maintenance chemo. He proudly shows me how he can down a pill with no water. To help him fight the fight, Sebby takes between 20 and 30 pills per day.  He says he’s in remission now and will be cured by 2014.

Here’s the rest of my interview with Sebby [his mom fills in some details too]. I think you’ll quickly see why I call Sebby my amazing young hero.

WHEN WERE YOU DIAGNOSED? “In January 2011 when I was in 3rd grade. I couldn’t go back to school until December. I finish 4th grade tomorrow!”

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF THIS YEAR? “I was given the Cox inspirational student hero award. My guidance counselor and teacher nominated me because I overcame terrible circumstances with a great attitude.” [His principal chose him for the award out of all those nominated in his school.]

Sebby then says, “I’ll be right back.” He returns a moment later with a humble smile as he sits down next to me, with award certificates and medal in hand. He proudly reads his 4th grade teacher’s words aloud. Her nomination states, “Sebastian has taught us that there is NOTHING that we can’t overcome with support and love from our family and friends. Sebastian is Florosa’s Hero!” (Ms. Crump)

WHO WAS THERE AND WHAT HAPPENED? “The ceremony was at the Emerald Coast Convention Center. I received a medal and certificate and letters [of acknowledgment from Matt Gaetz, Florida House of Representatives & Congressman Jeff Miller]. I also got the citizenship award for best attitude, no check marks or write-ups.” 

I HEARD THAT YOU HAD SOME OTHER SURPRISES THIS YEAR. “The Make-A-Wish Foundation sent me and my parents to LEGO Land! [They granted us an all-expense paid trip, including souvenir money.  The employees all wear Lego-made name plates.] I built my own souvenirs. Here’s my boxer with red gloves to match mine. [We got a behind-the-scenes tour with LEGO model builders & animators.] It’s their secret shop! Make-A-Wish also gave us passes to Busch Gardens.” [On the free-day they also sent us to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios]. 

HOW CAN YOU TOP THAT—WHAT’S PLANNED FOR SUMMER VACATION? I’m going to Camp for a week without my parents!” We all laughed at that comment. “I’ll get to meet other kids going through cancer. We get to do a lot of fun stuff. [And there’s a medical team there. Sebby knows all his medicines; he can identify each pill.] This summer I want to visit my grandparents and go bowling too!” 

WHAT’S BEEN THE MOST ANNOYING PART OF HAVING CANCER? “When I was losing my hair, it kept coming out on my pillow and waking me up. That was annoying. I always wore my cap because I didn’t like people seeing me without hair. [After awhile he was okay with it.] I was afraid of how people thought of me. I wanted to look cool and not be teased. When people stared I wanted to slap them and say, ‘Hey just because my appearance is different doesn’t mean I’m not like everybody else.’ Instead of staring, they should mind their own business. [But you shared with your class.] I don’t mind sharing with my friends and having them ask questions because I know them.”

TELL ME SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE THINGS: “I have 2 cats. I like smores, ice cream, Cece’s brownies, toast with peanut butter & cinnamon. My favorite color is red. My favorite book is Diary of a Wimpy Kid. My favorite thing is LEGO’s. My favorite page in my coloring book is the girl punching the cancer bag. Hey, can you guys make a boy instead!” (I promised to talk to Hope Matters’ artist about that request.)

IF YOU COULD GIVE ADVICE TO FAMILIES ABOUT CANCER, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY? WHAT GETS YOU THROUGH IT? Sebby shared this answer on camera. Click on the “Hopeful Moments with Sebastian” video below. His quiet voice delivers a very powerful message.

Sebby & his family’s brave fight is met with many obstacles. His amazing camp experience was followed by immediate hospitalization. His parents have approved for “hug-mail” to be sent to Sebby at:

Sebby Riker, 325 Celeste Street, Mary Esther FL 32569

Share this post with your family & friends so that Sebby & his parents can be overwhelmed by hug-mail instead of cancer. We are believing that Huge Outcomes are Possible Everyday for Sebby!

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