Hi Marty,
I meant to write to you 4 years ago when Ben graduated from High School, to tell you how well he was doing, but time has slipped away! Now he’s graduating from College, and I knew I had to send this today!!

It’s hard to believe that we were fighting this battle 20 years ago. It was a difficult treatment, but by the grace of God, our family came out of the other side stronger and intact. We are richly blessed!!! I’m guessing you don’t often hear “the rest of the story”, so hopefully, it will lift your spirits.

As indicated in the story below, Ben had a temporary ostomy for several months. This was a life-saving surgery at the time he was going through chemo for Leukemia, and he received a second Shadow Buddy with an ostomy. This was a hard reality for a 3-year-old, and it really helped him to have the Buddy to go through it with him. That Buddy (George Junior) went everywhere with us during those years. The 2 Buddies are among only a few saved toys from childhood! Ben’s health slowly began to improve, while he went through 3-1/2 years of chemo. Of course there were major health concerns and pitfalls in the years that followed, but basically, we got our healthy boy back after all of this treatment. This June will be 17 years post-chemo for Ben. Every passing day is a celebration! (I was so happy to go to your website and see a grown-up Miles next to you in the photo ~ God is good!)

Thank you for all you did for our son when it mattered so much: Ben was able to use his Buddy to break the ice with people….it helped him to look externally and not be too sorry for his own circumstance at the time. This gave him empathy beyond his years, something we continue to value in him.

In the photos below, Ben is with his sister, Alisen, shortly after he received “George Junior” in 1997. She played a large role in keeping his spirits up, and getting him to laugh again. Once we heard that, we knew things would be okay. Alisen is now 28 years old and has been married for 4 years. She’s still Ben’s “go-to” person when he needs to talk. Never under-estimate the power of an older sister! The photo of Ben is his High School graduation photo from 2013.

Ben is preparing to graduate from Indiana State University in May, with a B.S. degree in Recreation and Sports Management on his birthday! So, we come back to the birthday, as in the article below: Yes, Ben got “a happy face” for that birthday 20 years ago. I can assure you that he and his family will have a “happy face” on his birthday this year as well.

Warmly,

Pam & Matt Huff