By Gary Lloyd
TRUSSVILLE — A Trussville mom is using Facebook and her family’s own experiences with cancer to help others.
Holly Barksdale’s son, Andrew, was 15 months old when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, typically the most common type of childhood cancer.
“Andrew’s was not,” Barksdale said. “He had a gene rearrangement, which made his ‘rare.’ I am learning ‘rare’ is becoming more common with each passing day.”
Andrew’s older brother, Michael, wasn’t a match for his stem cell transplant. Typically, there’s only a 25 percent chance of a sibling match. Andrew had eight surgeries, six of them emergencies, Barksdale said.
“We were ‘homebound’ for at least a year or a little longer,” she said. “In 2012, after watching too many children being diagnosed with or having died from cancer, I decided to create Andrew’s Buddies: Hairless Heroes.”
She created this Facebook group in hopes of eventually starting a nonprofit. The group’s purpose is to be a place people can come to pray for cancer patients, their siblings and their families.
“It is also for raising awareness about childhood cancer,” Barksdale said. “We also pray for other people, too, not just cancer patients. At this point we do not know everyone we are praying for. If anyone sends a request or post a request we pray for them.”
Michael wanted to do something for the siblings of cancer patients, so that’s when the Michael’s Stars Facebook group began. Michael is 10 now, and he decided to start it when he was 9.
“He said there really needed to be a site or something that siblings or children of cancer patients could go to or where we could pray for them,” Barksdale said.
Barksdale said every prayer counts.
“From our own experience, we know prayer works,” she said. “God was in our experience every step of the way.”
Barksdale said the Facebook pages have been the family’s way of giving back.
“Facebook is a way to reach a large audience and give back to those who helped us and those who don’t know us,” she said. “Trussville rallied around us when Andrew was sick. I could — and will eventually — write a book about everything and everyone who helped when Andrew was sick.”
For more information, find “Andrew’s Buddies: Hairless Heroes” on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/303378826420157/ and “Michael’s Stars” on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/onemichaelsstars.
Contact Gary Lloyd at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.