“God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, or sunshine without rain, but he did promise strength for the day and light for the way.” – Unknown
By Erica Thomas, managing editor
TRUSSVILLE — They say as a parent, the most painful experience is watching a child suffer. That statement is probably true, but a loving community can make all the difference. That is evident after talking to the family of Ford Bertram.
On Feb. 13, 2020, the 4-year-old, vivacious Trussville boy was diagnosed with leukemia. As the family sat in the waiting room, a group of supportive friends and co-workers sat with them. After a couple of weeks of fever and pain, they finally knew what was wrong with little Ford. He is battling acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL).
Ford’s father, Matt, works as a paramedic for the Center Point Fire District and for the Mountain Brook Fire Department. According to Ford’s maternal grandmother, Dr. Lisa Lothspeich, it wasn’t long before Matt’s colleagues banded together to show the family love.
“I just can’t describe how the community support and prayers have given us so much comfort and peace through this,” said Lothspeich. “His chief and some others were in the waiting room when we got the diagnosis.”
Dr. Lothspeich, who is the principal at Paine Elementary School, in Trussville, said the school system has also been there for her family.
“The schools have been unbelievable,” Lothspeich said. “They have sent things and have done all sorts of things for our whole family. Teachers are wearing shirts, the PTO is asking what they can do. Everybody is pulling together and it’s at a time that it means the most.”
“He has such a unique personality and we have missed that this month because he is not that right now,” explained Lothspeich. “He feels bad. He would fall and always get right back up and say, ‘I’m OK!'”
Ford has always called himself a “master builder” because he loves building things with Legos and Lincoln Logs.
Lothspeich said that the name he gave himself is more than imaginary.
“He really is a master builder,” Lothspeich said. “He can construct anything. We haven’t seen any of those sides of him and we are so ready to get that back. He’s such a little joy.”
As for the fire department, Center Point Fire District Chief Gene Coleman said the fire service is embracing the Bertram family.
“Our core values are compassion, pride, family and dedication, being family at the base,” said Coleman. “Our crews are covering some of his (Matt’s) shifts to make sure he is with his family.”
A Facebook page has been created to update the public on Ford’s condition. Built Ford Tough exemplifies how strong the 4-year-old is.
Ford’s mother has also been strong since the diagnosis. Amelia Bertrum is pregnant with her fourth child and is due in May. Thankfully, her employer, Miss Kelley’s School of Dance, has also been supportive and has been working with Amelia’s schedule to ensure she has time to go back and forth to doctor’s appointments and tend to Ford.
While the family is unsure how they will handle the stress that comes with a child battling cancer and with a new child coming into the world, they know their bond will keep them strong.
“We just ask for prayers and for his healing, strength for his parents and for the other kids,” said Lothspeich.
For a parent, one of the most difficult things is watching a child suffer. But for the Bertram family, their village isn’t going anywhere.