Cancer is an incapacitating, nasty thing. It strikes without reason and affects every race, ethnicity, and gender. As adults, we often make our peace with the knowledge that cancer and other suffering is part of our world. But what if it’s a child? What if it’s a baby or a toddler? That seems above and beyond somehow.

Just a few years ago, our two-year-old son, Chase, was diagnosed with an aggressive but rare cancer in his brain, spine, and central nervous system called ATRT, or atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor. Chase was a naturally born, breast-fed, organic-vegetables, green-cleaners, low-sugar, cloth-diapered baby, and yet he still got cancer. At the time that we took him to the hospital, he most likely would have had only days to live due to his brain trauma. That’s how fast his cancer grew. The cells came fast, struck hard, and had very little to do with lifestyle choices. We felt totally powerless to help him. Our family of six and those in our community rallied around Chase as he went through brain surgery and chemo, spinal taps and transfusions. It was as hard as you can imagine.

Chase, of course, is only one of many kids with cancer, and our community was not the first one to find cancer in its midst. In these situations, we often we feel at a loss for words, utterly stunned that such young, innocent children face such punishing diseases. As Christians living in community, how do we come alongside friends and loved ones with cancer?

To answer that question, I want to share some advice and insight from our journey to help explain what it’s like for families going through it—and how the people around them can lend their support.

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